Skip to main content

Full text of "The kindred of the wild; a book of animal life"

See other formats



She IRinfcreb of the Wflb 

H Bool! of animal life 

Works of 

Charles G. D. Roberts 


The Prisoner of Mademoiselle (In press) 

The Watchers of the Trails (/ press) 

The Kindred of the Wild 

The Heart of the Ancient Wood 

Earth's Enigmas 

Barbara Ladd 

The Forge in the Forest 

A Sister to Evangeline 

The Marshes of Minas 

A History of Canada 

The Book of the Rose 


New York Nocturnes 

The Book of the Native 

In Divers Tones (Out of print) 

Songs of the Common Day (Out of print) 



New England Building 

Boston, Mass. 


(See page t8q) 




Author of 

'The Heart <rf the AncientWood 
Theifogie in the forest 
*A Bister to 

jg Evangelm 

roems etc- a 



Copyright, IQOO, IQOI, /goa, by 

Copyright, /go/, 1902, by 

Copyright, 181)6, by 

Copyright, iqoa, by 


Copyright, IQOZ, by 

Copyright, iqoa, by 

A II rights reserved 

Published, May, 1902 

Colonial jprcss 

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co. 

Boston, Mass., U.S.A. 

So flhv people 

Contents of the Booh 

ttbe Hnimal StorsO) 15 

ttbe /iDoonliQbt Urafte . 33 

Ube Xoro of tbe Hit 55 

TWlilo flDotberbooo . 93 

Ube Utomestcfcness of Itebonfca . . 117 

Savoury /IDeat5 143 

Ube 3Bo^ an& Htusbwtna . 159 

H treason of nature . . .181 
dbe f)aunter of tbe pine <3loom . . 199 
Ube UOlatcbers of tbe Camp-3ffre . 241 
TRnben Uwilidbt falls on tbe Stump 

Xots 273 

Ube "Ring of tbe nBamoseftel . . . 287 
Un panoply of Spears . 349 

(') 3nclu6e6 b^ pctmisBion of tbe TUnivenit? Boctctc 

H %tet of the 
^Drawings in the Book 


Ube Hnimal Stors . . 13 


TIGER" 17 


Ube flDoonliGbt trails 31 



" IT WAS BEYOND HIS REACH " . . . -49 

Ube Oloro of tbe Bit 53 






PERATIVE MALICE" . . . . .83 

TKHflfc flDotberboob ....... 91 


H Xist of tbc ffulUfcage 2>rawin$s 



Ube Siomesicfcness of Ifcebonfca . . us 





Savoury flDeats . . . . . .141 


Ube Bos ant> Utusbwina *s? 



a treason ot mature . . . . .179 


(See page 189) .... Frontispiece 



fltaunter of tbe pine (Bloom . . 197 

SERVED" 203 



HIM" 217 


LIKE A CAT " . . . . . . . 223 

H Xist of tbe jfulUpaae Drawings xi 


SHIP" 229 

TOlatcbers of tbe Campsite . 239 


CATELY" 249 



Wben TTwillobt falls on tbe Stump Xots 271 



Ube "Ring of tbe flDamoaefcel . .285 






MARK" 309 


HERD" 319 



OUT" 343 

1Tn panoplx? of Spears 347 





of tbe Milb 


animal Stor\> 

[LIKE in matter and in method, the animal 
story, as we have it to-day, may be re- 
garded as a culmination. The animal 
story, of course, in one form or another, is as 
old as the beginnings of literature. Perhaps the 
most engrossing part in the life-drama of prim- 
itive man was that played by the beasts which he 
hunted, and by those which hunted him. They 
pressed incessantly upon his perceptions. They 
furnished both material and impulse for his first 
gropings toward pictorial art. When he acquired 
the kindred art of telling a story, they supplied his 
earliest themes; and they suggested the hieroglyphs 
by means of which, on carved bone or painted rock, 


16 ttbe fanorefc of tbe TOUU> 

he first gave his narrative a form to outlast the 
spoken breath. We may not unreasonably infer 
that the first animal story the remote but au- 
thentic ancestor of " Mowgli " and " Lobo " and 
" Krag " was a story of some successful hunt, 
when success meant life to the starving family; or 
of some desperate escape, when the truth of the 
narrative was attested, to the hearers squatted 
trembling about their fire, by the sniffings of the 
baffled bear or tiger at the rock-barred mouth of 
the cave. Such first animal stories had at least one 
merit of prime literary importance. They were 
convincing. The first critic, however supercilious, 
would be little likely to cavil at their verisimilitude. 
Somewhat later, when men had begun to harass 
their souls, and their neighbours, with problems of 
life and conduct, then these same animals, hourly 
and in every aspect thrust beneath the eyes of 
their observation, served to point the moral of their 
tales. The beasts, not being in a position to resent 
the ignoble office thrust upon them, were compelled 
to do duty as concrete types of those obvious vir- 
tues and vices of which alone the unsophisticated 
ethical sense was ready to take cognisance. In this 
way, as soon as composition became a metier, was 
born the fable ; and in this way the ingenuity of the 


Ube Hnimal Stors 19 

first author enabled him to avoid a perilous unpop- 
ularity among those whose weaknesses and defects 
his art held up to the scorn of all the caves. 

These earliest observers of animal life were com- 
pelled by the necessities of the case to observe truly, 
if not deeply. Pitting their wits against those of 
their four-foot rivals, they had to know their an- 
tagonists, and respect them, in order to overcome 
them. But it was only the most salient character- 
istics of each species that concerned the practical 
observer. It was simple to remember that the tiger 
was cruel, the fox cunning, the wolf rapacious. 
And so, as advancing civilisation drew an ever 
widening line between man and the animals, and 
men became more and more engrossed in the inter- 
ests of their own kind, the personalities of the wild 
creatures which they had once known so well be- 
came obscured to them, and the creatures them- 
selves came to be regarded, for the purposes of 
literature, as types or symbols merely, except 
in those cases, equally obstructive to exact observa- 
tion, where they were revered as temporary tene- 
ments of the spirits of departed kinsfolk. The 
characters in that great beast-epic of the middle 
ages, " Reynard the Fox," though far more elab- 
orately limned than those which play their succinct 

20 Ube Ifcinbreo of tbe 

roles in the fables of ^Esop, are at the same time 
in their elaboration far more alien to the truths of 
wild nature. Reynard, Isegrim, Bruin, and Grey- 
beard have little resemblance to the fox, the wolf, 
the bear, and the badger, as patience, sympathy, and 
the camera reveal them to us to-day. 

The advent of Christianity, strange as it may 
seem at first glance, did not make for a closer 
understanding between man and the lower animals. 
While it was militant, fighting for its life against 
the forces of paganism, its effort was to set man at 
odds with the natural world, and fill his eyes with 
the wonders of the spiritual. Man was the only 
thing of consequence on earth, and of man, not his 
body, but his soul. Nature was the ally of the 
enemy. The way of nature was the way of death. 
In man alone was the seed of the divine. Of what 
concern could be the joy or pain of creatures of no 
soul, to-morrow returning to the dust? To strenu- 
ous spirits, their eyes fixed upon the fear of hell 
for themselves, and the certainty of it for their 
neighbours, it smacked of sin to take thought of 
the feelings of such evanescent products of cor- 
ruption. Hence it came that, in spite of the gentle 
understanding of such sweet saints as Francis of 
Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Colomb of the Bees, 

Ube animal Stors 21 

the inarticulate kindred for a long time reaped small 
comfort from the Dispensation of Love. 

With the spread of freedom and the broadening 
out of all intellectual interests which characterise 
these modern days, the lower kindreds began to 
regain their old place in the concern of man. The 
revival of interest in the animals found literary 
expression (to classify roughly) in two forms, 
which necessarily overlap each other now and then, 
viz., the story of adventure and the anecdote of 
observation. Hunting as a recreation, pursued with 
zest from pole to tropics by restless seekers after 
the new, supplied a species of narrative singularly 
akin to what the first animal stories must have been, 
narratives of desperate encounter, strange peril, 
and hairbreadth escape. Such hunters' stories and 
travellers' tales are rarely conspicuous for the exact- 
itude of their observation; but that was not the 
quality at first demanded of them by fireside readers. 
The attention of the writer was focussed, not upon 
the peculiarities or the emotions of the beast pro- 
tagonist in each fierce, brief drama, but upon the 
thrill of the action, the final triumph of the human 
actor. The inevitable tendency of these stories of 
adventure with beasts was to awaken interest in 
animals, and to excite a desire for exact knowledge 

22 TTbe lifn&re& of tbe TWUU> 

of their traits and habits. The interest and the 
desire evoked the natural historian, the inheritor of 
the half-forgotten mantle of Pliny. Precise and 
patient scientists made the animals their care, ob- 
serving with microscope and measure, comparing 
bones, assorting families, subdividing subdivisions, 
till at length all the beasts of significance to man 
were ticketed neatly, and laid bare, as far as the 
inmost fibre of their material substance was con- 
cerned, to the eye of popular information. 

Altogether admirable and necessary as was this 
development at large, another, of richer or at least 
more spiritual significance, was going on at home. 
Folk who loved their animal comrades their dogs, 
horses, cats, parrots, elephants were observ- 
ing, with the wonder and interest of discoverers, 
the astonishing fashion in which the mere instincts 
of these so-called irrational creatures were able to 
simulate the operations of reason. The results of 
this observation were written down, till " anecdotes 
of animals " came to form a not inconsiderable body 
of literature. The drift of all these data was over- 
whelmingly toward one conclusion. The mental 
processes of the animals observed were seen to be 
far more complex than the observers had supposed. 
Where instinct was called in to account for the elab- 

Hntmal Stors 23 

orate ingenuity with which a dog would plan and 
accomplish the outwitting of a rival, or the nice 
judgment with which an elephant, with no nest- 
building ancestors behind him to instruct his brain, 
would choose and adjust the teak-logs which he was 
set to pile, it began to seem as if that faithful 
faculty was being overworked. To explain yet 
other cases, which no accepted theory seemed to fit, 
coincidence was invoked, till that rare and elusive 
phenomenon threatened to become as customary 
as buttercups. But when instinct and coincidence 
had done all that could be asked of them, there re- 
mained a great unaccounted-for body of facts ; and 
men were forced at last to accept the proposition 
that, within their varying limitations, animals can 
and do reason. As far, at least, as the mental 
intelligence is concerned, the gulf dividing the lowest 
of the human species from the highest of the animals 
has in these latter days been reduced to a very 
narrow psychological fissure. 

Whether avowedly or not, it is with the psy- 
chology of animal life that the representative animal 
stories of to-day are first of all concerned. Looking 
deep into the eyes of certain of the four-footed 
kindred, we have been startled to see therein a some- 
thing, before unrecognised, that answered to our 

24 Ube Tkinfcrefc of tbe 

inner and intellectual, if not spiritual selves. We 
have suddenly attained a new and clearer vision. 
We have come face to face with personality, where 
we were blindly wont to predicate mere instinct and 
automatism. It is as if one should step carelessly 
out of one's back door, and marvel to see unrolling 
before his new-awakened eyes the peaks and seas 
and misty valleys of an unknown world. Our chief 
writers of animal stories at the present day may be 
regarded as explorers of this unknown world, 
absorbed in charting its topography. They 
work, indeed, upon a substantial foundation of 
known facts. They are minutely scrupulous as to 
their natural history, and assiduous contributors to 
that science. But above all are they diligent in their 
search for the motive beneath the action. Their 
care is to catch the varying, elusive personalities 
which dwell back of the luminous brain windows 
of the dog, the horse, the deer, or wrap themselves 
in reserve behind the inscrutable eyes of all the cats, 
or sit aloof in the gaze of the hawk and the eagle. 
The animal story at its highest point of develop- 
ment is a psychological romance constructed on a 
framework of natural science. 

The real psychology of the animals, so far as we 
are able to grope our way toward it by deduction 

tlbe animal Stor? 27 

and induction combined, is a very different thing 
from the psychology of certain stories of animals 
which paved the way for the present vogue. Of 
these, such books as " Beautiful Joe " and " Black 
Beauty " are deservedly conspicuous examples. It 
is no detraction from the merit of these books, which 
have done great service in awakening a sympathetic 
understanding of the animals and sharpening our 
sense of kinship with all that breathe, to say that 
their psychology is human. Their animal charac- 
ters think and feel as human beings would think 
and feel under like conditions. This marks the 
stage which these works occupy in the development 
of the animal story. 

The next stage must be regarded as, in literature, 
a climax indeed, but not the climax in this genre. 
I refer to the " Mowgli " stories of Mr. Kipling. 
In these tales the animals are frankly humanised. 
Their individualisation is distinctly human, as are 
also their mental and emotional processes, and their 
highly elaborate powers of expression. Their no- 
tions are complex; whereas the motives of real 
animals, so far as we have hitherto been able to 
judge them, seem to be essentially simple, in the 
sense that the motive dominant at a given moment 
quite obliterates, for the time, all secondary motives. 

28 Ube Itfnoreo of tbe TKHtU> 

Their reasoning powers and their constructive 
imagination are far beyond anything which present 
knowledge justifies us in ascribing to the inarticulate 
kindreds. To say this is in no way to depreciate 
such work, but merely to classify it. There are 
stories being written now which, for interest and 
artistic value, are not to be mentioned in the same 
breath with the " Mowgli " tales, but which never- 
theless occupy a more advanced stage in the evolu- 
tion of this genre. 

It seems to me fairly safe to say that this evolu- 
tion is not likely to go beyond the point to which 
it has been carried to-day. In such a story, for 
instance, as that of " Krag, the Kootenay Ram," by 
Mr. Ernest Seton, the interest centres about the per- 
sonality, individuality, mentality, of an animal, as 
well as its purely physical characteristics. The field 
of animal psychology so admirably opened is an 
inexhaustible world of wonder. Sympathetic ex- 
ploration may advance its boundaries to a degree of 
which we hardly dare to dream ; but such expansion 
cannot be called evolution. There would seem to 
be no further evolution possible, unless based upon 
a hypothesis that animals have souls. As souls 
are apt to elude exact observation, to forecast any 
such development would seem to be at best merely 

Hnimal Stors 29 

The animal story, as we now have it, is a potent 
emancipator. It frees us for a little from the world 
of shop-worn utilities, and from the mean tenement 
of self of which we do well to grow weary. It helps 
us to return to nature, without requiring that we at 
the same time return to barbarism. It leads us back 
to the old kinship of earth, without asking us to 
relinquish by way of toll any part of the wisdom 
of the ages, any fine essential of the " large result 
of time." The clear and candid life to which it re- 
initiates us, far behind though it lies in the long 
upward march of being, holds for us this quality. 
It has ever the more significance, it has ever the 
richer gift of refreshment and renewal, the more 
humane the heart and spiritual the understanding 
which we bring to the intimacy of it. 

was no wind. The young fir- 
trees stood up straight and tall and stiffly 
pointed from the noiseless white levels 
of the snow. The blue-white moon of midwinter, 
sharply glittering like an icicle, hung high in a 
heaven clear as tempered steel. 

The young fir-trees were a second growth, on 
lands once well cleared, but afterward reclaimed by 
the forest. They rose in serried phalanxes, with 
here and there a solitary sentinel of spruce, and 
here and there a little huddling group of yellow 
birches. The snow-spaces between formed spark- 
ling alleys, and long, mysterious vistas, expanding 
frequently into amphitheatres of breathless stillness 
and flooding radiance. There was no trace of that 
most ghostly and elusive winter haze which repre- 
sents the fine breathing of the forest. Rather the 
air seemed like diamonds held in solution, fluent as 
by miracle, and not without strange peril to be 
jarred by sound or motion. 


34 ttbe ittnoreo of tbe 

Yet presently the exaggerated tension of the 
stillness was broken, and no disaster followed. Two 
small, white, furry shapes came leaping, one behind 
the other, down a corridor of radiance, as lightly 
as if a wind were lifting and drifting them. It 
was as if some of the gentler spirits of the winter 
and the wild had seized the magic hour for an 
incarnation. Leaping at gay leisure, their little 
bodies would lengthen out to a span of nearly three 
feet, then round themselves together so that the 
soft pads of their hinder paws would touch the 
snow within a couple of inches of the prints from 
which their fore paws were even then starting to 
rise. The trail thus drawn down the white aisle 
consisted of an orderly succession of close tripli- 
cate bunches of footprints, like no other trail of the 
wild folk. From time to time the two harmonious 
shapes would halt, sit up on their hindquarters, erect 
their long, attentive ears, glance about warily with 
their bulging eyes which, in this position, could see 
behind as well as in front of their narrow heads, 
wrinkle those cleft nostrils which were cunning 
to differentiate every scent upon the sharp air, and 
then browse hastily but with a cheerful relish at 
the spicy shoots of the young yellow birch. Feed- 
ing, however, was plainly not their chief purpose. 

/iDoonlisbt Zlrails 35 

Always within a few moments they would resume 
their leaping progress through the white glitter and 
the hard, black shadows. 

Very soon their path led them out into a wide 
glade, fenced all about with the serried and formal 
ranks of the young firs. It seemed as if the blue- 
white moon stared down into this space with a 
glassiness of brilliance even more deluding and 
magical than elsewhere. The snow here was crossed 
by a tangle of th'e fine triplicate tracks. Doubling 
upon themselves in all directions and with obvious 
irresponsibility, they were evidently the trails of 
play rather than of business or of flight. Their 
pattern was the pattern of mirth ; and some half 
dozen wild white rabbits were gaily weaving at it 
when the two newcomers joined them. Long ears 
twinkling, round eyes softly shining, they leaped 
lightly hither and thither, pausing every now and 
then to touch each other with their sensitive noses, 
or to pound on the snow with their strong hind legs 
in mock challenge. It seemed to be the play of 
care-free children, almost a kind of confused dance, 
a spontaneous expression of the joy of life. Never- 
theless, for all the mirth of it, there was never a 
moment when two or more of the company were 
not to be seen sitting erect, with watchful ears and 


eyes, close in the shadow of the young fir-trees. 
For the night that was so favourable to the wild 
rabbits was favourable also to the fox, the wildcat, 
and the weasel. And death stalks joy forever 
among the kindred of the wild. 

From time to time one or another of the leaping 
players would take himself off through the fir-trees, 
while others continued to arrive along the moon- 
light trails. This went on till the moon had swung 
perhaps an hour's distance on her shining course; 
then, suddenly it stopped; and just for a fleeting 
fraction of a breath all the players were motionless, 
with ears one way. From one or another of the 
watchers there had come some signal, swift, but to 
the rabbits instantly clear. No onlooker not of 
the cleft-nose, long-ear clan could have told in what 
the signal consisted, or what was its full signifi- 
cance. But whatever it was, in a moment the players 
were gone, vanishing to the east and west and 
south, all at once, as if blown off by a mighty breath. 
Only toward the north side of the open there went 
not one. 

Nevertheless, the moon, peering down with sharp 
scrutiny into the unshadowed northern fringes of 
the open, failed to spy out any lurking shape of 
fox, wildcat, or weasel. Whatever the form in 


/iDoonliobt Urails 39 

which fate had approached, it chose not to unmask 
its menace. Thereafter, for an hour or more, the 
sparkling glade with its woven devices was empty. 
Then, throughout the rest of the night, an occa- 
sional rabbit would go bounding across it hastily, 
on affairs intent, and paying no heed to its signifi- 
cant hieroglyphs. And once, just before moon-set, 
came a large red fox and sniffed about the tangled 
trails with an interest not untinged with scorn. 


The young fir wood covered a tract of poor land 
some miles in width, between the outskirts of the 
ancient forest and a small settlement known as 
Far Bazziley. In the best house of Far Bazziley 
that of the parish clergyman there lived a boy 
whom chance, and the capricious destiny of the 
wild folk, led to take a sudden lively interest in 
the moonlight trails. Belonging to a different class 
from the other children of the settlement, he was 
kept from the district school and tutored at home, 
with more or less regularity, by his father. His 
lesson hours, as a rule, fell when the other boys 
were busy at their chores and it was the tradition 
of Far Bazziley that boys were born to work, not 
play. Thus it happened that the boy had little 
of the companionship of his fellows. 

4 Ube frtnfcrefc ot tbe 7HHU& 

Being of too eager and adventurous a spirit to 
spend much of his leisure in reading, he was thrown 
upon his own resources, and often found himself 
hungry for new interests. Animals he loved, and 
of all cruelty toward them he was fiercely intolerant. 
Great or small, it hurt him to see them hurt; and 
he was not slow to resent and resist that kind of 

On more than one occasion he had thrashed other 
boys of the settlement for torturing, with boyish 
playfulness and ingenuity, superfluous kittens which 
thrifty housewives had confided to them to drown. 
These rough interferences with custom did him no 
harm, for the boys were forced to respect his prow- 
ess, and they knew well enough that kittens had 
some kind of claim upon civilisation. But when it 
came to his overbearing championship of snakes, 
that was another matter, and he made himself un- 
popular. It was rank tyranny, and disgustingly 
unnatural, if they could not crush a snake's back 
with stones and then lay it out in the sun to die 
gradually, without the risk of getting a black eye 
and bloodied nose for it. 

It was in vain the boy explained, on the incon- 
trovertible authority of his father, that the brilliant 
garter-snake, the dainty little green snake, and 

Ube /iDoonlfsbt trails 41 

indeed all the snakes of the neighbourhood without 
exception, were as harmless as lady-bugs. A snake 
was a snake; and in the eyes of Far Bazziley to 
kill one, with such additions of painfulness in the 
process as could be devised on the moment, was 
to obey Biblical injunction. The boy, not unnatu- 
rally, was thrust more and more into the lonely 

* Y* 

eminence of his isolation. 

But one unfailing resource he had always with 
him, and that was the hired man. His mother might 
be, as she usually was, too absorbed in household 
cares to give adequate heed to his searching interro- 
gations. His father might spend huge blanks of 
his time in interminable drives to outlying parts 
of his parish. But the hired man was always at 
hand. It was not always the same hired man. But 
whether his name were Bill of Tom, Henry or Mart 
or Chris, the boy found that he could safely look 
for some uniformity of characteristics, and that 
he could depend upon each in turn for some teaching 
that seemed to him more practical and timely than 
equations or the conjugation of nolo, nolle, nolui. 

At this particular time of the frequenting of 
the moonlight trails, the boy was unusually fortu- 
nate in his hired man. The latter was a boyish, 
enthusiastic fellow, by the name of Andy, who had 

4* Ubc frtufcreo of tbc Milo 

an interest in the kind of things which the boy 
held important. One morning as he was helping 
Andy with the barn work, the man said: 

" It's about full moon now, and right handy 
weather for rabbit-snarin'. What say if we git 
off to the woods this afternoon, if your fatherll 
let us, an' set some snares fer to-night, afore a 
new snow comes and spiles the tracks ? " 

The silent and mysterious winter woods, the 
shining spaces of the snow marked here and there 
with strange footprints leading to unknown lairs, 
the clear glooms, the awe and the sense of unseen 
presences these were what came thronging into 
the boy's mind at Andy's suggestion. All the won- 
derful possibilities of it ! The wild spirit of adven- 
ture, the hunting zest of elemental man, stirred in 
his veins at the idea. Had he seen a rabbit being 
hurt he would have rushed with indignant pity 
to the rescue. But the idea of rabbit-snaring, as 
presented by Andy's exciting words, fired a side 
of his imagination so remote from pity as to have 
no communication with it whatever along the nerves 
of sympathy or association. He was a vigorous and 
normal boy, and the jewel of consistency (which is 
usually paste) was therefore of as little consequence 
to him as to the most enlightened of his elders. He 

Ube flDoonltgbt trails 43 

threw himself with fervour into Andy's scheme, 
plied him with exhaustive questions as to the 
methods of making and setting snares, and spent 
the rest of the morning, under direction, in whit- 
tling with his pocket-knife the required uprights 
and cross-pieces, and twisting the deadly nooses 
of fine copper wire. In the prime of the afternoon 
the two, on their snowshoes, set off gaily for the 
wood of the young fir-trees. 

Up the long slope of the snowy pasture lots, 
where the drifted hillocks sparkled crisply, and the 
black stumps here and there broke through in sug- 
gestive, fantastic shapes, and the gray rampikes 
towered bleakly to the upper air, the two climbed 
with brisk steps, the dry cold a tonic to nerve and 
vein. As they entered the fir woods a fine, bal- 
samy tang breathed up to greet them, and the 
boy's nostrils took eager note of it. 

The first tracks to meet their eyes were the 
delicate footprints of the red squirrel, ending 
abruptly at the foot of a tree somewhat larger than 
its fellows. Then the boy's sharp eyes marked a 
trail very slender and precise small, clear dots 
one after the other; and he had a feeling of pro- 
tective tenderness to the maker of that innocent 
little trail, till Andy told him that he of the dainty 

44 Ube ltfn&reo of tbc Wilfc 

footprints was the bloodthirsty and indomitable 
weasel, the scourge of all the lesser forest kin. 

The weasel's trail led them presently to another 
track, consisting of those triplicate clusters of prints, 
dropped lightly and far apart; and Andy said, 
"Rabbits! and the weasel's after them!" The 
words made a swift picture in the boy's imagina- 
tion; and he never forgot the trail of the wild 
rabbit or the trail of the weasel. 

Crossing these tracks, they soon came to one 
more beaten, along which it was plain that many 
rabbits had fared. This they followed, one going 
on either side of it that it might not be obliterated 
by the broad trail of their snowshoes; and in a 
little time it led them out upon the sheltered glade 
whereon the merrymakers of the night before had 
held their revels. 

In the unclouded downpour of the sunlight the 
tracks stood forth with emphasised distinctness, 
a melting, vapourous violet against the gold-white of 
the snowy surface; and to the boy's eyes, though, 
not to the man's, was revealed a formal and intricate 
pattern in the tangled markings. To Andy it was 
incomprehensible; but he saw at once that in the 
ways leading to the open it would be well to plant 
the snares. The boy, on the other hand, had a 

Ube flDoonligbt Urails 45 

keener insight, and exclaimed at once, " What fun 
they must have been having! " But his sympathy 
was asleep. Nothing, at that moment, could wake 
it up so far as to make him realise the part he was 
about to play toward those childlike revellers of 
the moonlight trails. 

Skirting the glade, and stepping carefully over 
the trails, they proceeded to set their snares at 
the openings of three of the main alleys; and for 
a little while the strokes of their hatchets rang out 
frostily on the still air as they chopped down fra- 
grant armfuls of the young fir branches. 

Each of the three snares was set in this fashion: 
First they stuck the fir branches into the snow to 
form a thick green fence on both sides of the trail, 
with a passage only wide enough for one rabbit 
at a time to pass through. On each side of this 
passageway they drove securely a slender stake, 
notched on the inner face. Over the opening they 
bent down a springy sapling, securing its top, by 
a strong cord, to a small wooden cross-piece which 
was caught and held in the notches of the two up- 
rights. From the under side of this cross-piece was 
suspended the easy-running noose of copper wire, 
just ample enough for a rabbit's head, with the 
ears lying back, to enter readily. 

46 ttbe IkinOrct) ot tbe 

By the time the snares were set it was near sun- 
down, and the young fir-trees were casting long, 
pointed, purple shadows. With the drawing on 
of evening the boy felt stirrings of a wild, predatory 
instinct. His skin tingled with a still excitement 
which he did not understand, and he went with a 
fierce yet furtive wariness, peering into the shadows 
as if for prey. As he and Andy emerged from the 
woods, and strode silently down the desolate slopes 
of the pasture lots, he could think of nothing but 
his return on the morrow to see what prizes had 
fallen to his snares. His tenderness of heart, his 
enlightened sympathy with the four-footed kin- 
dred, much of his civilisation, in fact, had vanished 
for the moment, burnt out in the flame of an instinct 
handed down to him from his primeval ancestors. 


That night the moon rose over the young fir 
woods, blue-white and glittering as on the night 
before. The air was of the same biting stillness 
and vitreous transparency. The magic of it stirred 
up the same merry madness in the veins of the 
wild rabbits, and set them to aimless gambolling 
instead of their usual cautious browsing in the 
thickets of yellow birch. One by one and two by 

Ube ADoonltgbt ZTrails 47 

two the white shapes came drifting down the 
shadowed alleys and moonlight trails of the fir 
wood toward the bright glade which they seemed 
to have adopted, for the time, as their playground. 
The lanes and ways were many that gave entrance 
to the glade ; and presently some half dozen rabbits 
came bounding, from different directions, across 
the radiant open. But on the instant they stopped 
and sat straight up on their haunches, ears erect, 
struck with consternation. 

There at the mouth of one of the alleys a white 
form jerked high into the air. It hung, silently 
struggling, whirling round and round, and at the 
same time swaying up and down with the bending of 
the sapling-top from which it swung. The startled 
spectators had no comprehension of the sight, no 
signal-code to express the kind of peril it portended, 
and how to flee from it. They sat gazing in terror. 
Then, at the next entrance, there shot up into the 
brilliant air another like horror; and at the next, 
in the same breath, another. The three hung kicking 
in a hideous silence. 

The spell was broken. The spectators, trembling 
under the imminence of a doom which they could 
not understand, vanished with long bounds by the 
opposite side of the glade. All was still again 

lttn&re& of tbe WfU> 

under the blue-white, wizard scrutiny of the moon 
but those three kicking shapes. And these, too, in 
a few minutes hung motionless as the fir-trees and 
the snow. As the glassy cold took hold upon them 
they slowly stiffened. 

About an hour later a big red fox came trotting 
into the glade. The hanging shapes caught his 
eye at once. He knew all about snares, being an 
old fox, for years at odds with the settlement of 
Far Bazziley. Casting a sharp glance about, he 
trotted over to the nearest snare and sniffed up 
desirously toward the white rabbit dangling above 
him. It was beyond his reach, and one unavailing 
spring convinced him of the fact. The second 
hung equally remote. But with the third he was 
more fortunate. The sapling was slender, and 
drooped its burden closer to the snow. With an 
easy leap the fox seized the dangling body, dragged 
it down, gnawed off its head to release the noose, 
and bore away the spoils in triumph, conscious of 
having scored against his human rivals in the 

Late in the morning, when the sun was pale in 
a sky that threatened snowfall, the boy and Andy 
came, thrilling with anticipation, to see what the 
snares had captured. At the sight of the first 


Ube flDoonliQbt ZTrails S 1 

victim, the stiff, furry body hanging in the air 
from the bowed top of the sapling, the boy's nerves 
tingled with a novel and fierce sense of triumph. 
His heart leapt, his eyes flamed, and he sprang 
forward, with a little cry, as a young beast might 
in sighting its first quarry. His companion, long 
used to the hunter's enthusiasm, was less excited. 
He went to the next snare, removed the victim, 
reset the catch and noose; while the boy, slinging 
his trophy over his shoulder with the air of a vet- 
eran (as he had seen it done in pictures), hastened 
on to the third to see why it had failed him. To 
his untrained eye the trampled snow, the torn head, 
and the blood spots told the story in part; and as 
he looked a sense of the tragedy of it began to stir 
achingly at the roots of his heart. " A fox," re- 
marked Andy, in a matter-of-fact voice, coming up 
at the moment, with his prize hanging rigidly, by 
the pathetically babyish hind legs, from the grasp 
of his mittened fist. 

The boy felt a spasm of indignation against the 
fox. Then, turning his gaze upon Andy's capture, 
he was struck by the cruel marks of the noose under 
its jaws and behind its ears. He saw, for the 
first time, the half-open mouth, the small, jutting 
tongue, the expression of the dead eyes; and his 

5* Ube fttn&refc of tbe 

face changed. He removed his own trophy from 
his shoulder and stared at it for some moments. 
Then two big tears rolled over his ruddy cheeks. 
With an angry exclamation he flung the dead rabbit 
down on the snow and ran to break up the snares. 
" We won't snare any more rabbits, Andy," he 
cried, averting his face, and starting homeward with 
a dogged set to his shoulders. Andy, picking up 
the rejected spoils with a grin that was half be- 
wilderment, half indulgent comprehension, philo- 
sophically followed the penitent. 

Xort) of tbe Hit 


i HE chill glitter of the northern summer 
sunrise was washing down over the 
rounded top of old Sugar Loaf. The 
sombre and solitary peak, bald save for a ragged 
veil of blueberry and juniper scrub, seemed to 
topple over the deep enshadowed valley at its 
foot. The valley was brimmed with crawling 
vapours, and around its rim emerged spectrally 
the jagged crests of the fir wood. On either side 
of the shrouded valley, to east and west, stretched 
a chain of similar basins, but more ample, and less 
deeply wrapped in mist. From these, where the 
vapours had begun to lift, came radiances of unruf- 
fled water. 

Where the peak leaned to the valley, the trunk 
of a giant pine jutted forth slantingly from a 
roothold a little below the summit. Its top had 
long ago been shattered by lightning and hurled 
away into the depths; but from a point some ten 
or twelve feet below the fracture, one gaunt limb 


ltfn&reo of tbe mtlo 

still waved green with persistent, indomitable life. 
This bleached stub, thrust out over the vast basin, 
hummed about by the untrammelled winds, was the 
watch-tower of the great bald eagle who ruled 
supreme over all the aerial vicinage of the Squatooks. 

When the earliest of the morning light fell palely 
on the crest of Sugar Loaf, the great eagle came 
to his watch-tower, leaving the nest on the other 
side of the peak, where the two nestlings had begun 
to stir hungrily at the first premonition of dawn. 
Launching majestically from the edge of the nest, 
he had swooped down into the cold shadow, then, 
rising into the light by a splendid spiral, with muf- 
fled resonance of wing-stroke, he had taken a survey 
of the empty, glimmering world. It was still quite 
too dark for hunting, down there on earth, hungry 
though the nestlings were. He soared, and soared, 
till presently he saw his wide-winged mate, too, 
leave the nest, and beat swiftly off toward the Tuladi 
Lakes, her own special hunting-grounds. Then he 
dropped quietly to his blanched pine-top on the 
leaning side of the summit. 

Erect and moveless he sat in the growing light, 
his snowy, flat-crowned head thrust a little forward, 
consciously lord of the air. His powerful beak, 
long and scythe-edged, curved over sharply at the 

Ube %oro of tbc Hit 59 

end in a rending hook. His eyes, clear, direct, 
unacquainted with iear, had a certain hardness in 
their vitreous brilliancy, perhaps by reason of the 
sharp contrast between the bright gold iris and 
the unfathomable pupil, and the straight line of 
the low overhanging brow gave them a savage 
intensity of penetration. His neck and tail were 
of the same snowy whiteness as his snake-like head, 
while the rest of his body was a deep, shadowy 
brown, close kin to black. 

Suddenly, far, far down, winging swiftly in a 
straight line through the topmost fold of the mist 
drift, he saw a duck flying from one lake to 
another. The errand of the duck was probably an 
unwonted one, of some special urgency, or he 
would not have flown so high and taken the straight 
route over the forest; for at this season the duck 
of inland waters is apt to fly low and follow the 
watercourse. However that may be, he had for- 
gotten the piercing eyes that kept watch from the 
peak of old Sugar Loaf. 

The eagle lifted and spread the sombre amplitude 
of his wings, and glided from his perch in a long 
curve, till he balanced above the unconscious voy- 
ager. Then down went his head; his wings shut 
close, his feathers hardened till he was like a wedge 

6o Ube Idnorefc of tbe 

of steel, and down he shot with breathless, appalling 
speed. But the duck was travelling fast, and the 
great eagle saw that the mere speed of dropping 
like a thunderbolt was insufficient for his purpose. 
Two or three quick, short, fierce thrusts of his 
pinions, and the speed of his descent was more than 
doubled. The duck heard an awful hissing in the 
air above him. But before he could swerve* to look 
up he was struck, whirled away, blotted out of life. 

Carried downward with his quarry by the rush 
of his descent, the eagle spread his pinions and rose 
sharply just before he reached the nearest tree-tops. 
High he mounted on still wings with that tremen- 
dous impulse. Then, as the impulse failed, his 
wings began to flap strongly, and he flew off with 
business-like directness toward the eyrie on the other 
slope of Sugar Loaf. The head and legs of the 
duck hung limply from the clutch of his talons. 

The nest was a seemingly haphazard collection 
of sticks, like a hay-cart load of rubbish, deposited 
on a ledge of the mountainside. In reality, every 
stick in the structure had been selected with care, 
and so adeptly fitted that the nest stood unshaken 
beneath the wildest storms that swept old Sugar 
Loaf. The ground below the ledge was strewn 
with the faggots and branches which the careful 

Ube Xorfc of tbe Hit 61 

builders had rejected. The nest had the appear- 
ance of being merely laid upon the ledge, but in 
reality its foundations were firmly locked into a 
ragged crevice which cleft the ledge at that point. 

As the eagle drew near with his prey, he saw 
his mate winging heavily from the Tuladis, a large 
fish hanging from her talons. They met at the 
nest's edge, and two heavy-bodied, soot-coloured, 
half-fledged nestlings, with wings half spread in 
eagerness, thrust up hungry, gaping beaks to greet 
them. The fish, as being the choicer morsel, was 
first torn to fragments and fed to these greedy 
beaks; and the duck followed in a few moments, 
the young ones gulping their meal with grotesque 
contortions and ecstatic liftings of their wings. 
Being already much more than half the size of 
their parents, and growing almost visibly, and ex- 
pending vast vitality in the production of their 
first feathers, their appetites were prodigious. Not 
until these appetites seemed to be, for the moment, 
stayed, and the eaglets sank back contentedly upon 
the nest, did the old birds fly off to forage for 
themselves, leaving a bloody garniture of bones 
and feathers upon the threshold of their home. 

The king who, though smaller than his mate, 
was her lord by virtue of superior initiative and 

62 ube frtnoreo of tbe 

more assured, equable daring returned at once 
to his watch-tower on the lake side of the sum- 
mit. It had become his habit to initiate every 
enterprise from that starting-point. Perching mo- 
tionless for a few minutes, he surveyed the whole 
wide landscape of the Squatook Lakes, with the 
great waters of Lake Temiscouata gleaming to the 
northwest, and the peak of Bald Mountain, old 
Sugar Loaf's rival, lifting a defiant front from the 
shores of Nictau Lake, far to the south. 

The last wisp of vapour had vanished, drunk 
up by the rising sun, and the eagle's eye had clear 
command of every district of his realm. It was 
upon the little lake far below him that his interest 
presently centred itself. There, at no great height 
above the unruffled waters, he saw a fish-hawk sail- 
ing, now tilted to one side or the other on moveless 
wing, now flapping hurriedly to another course, as 
if he were scrupulously quartering the whole lake 

The king recognised with satisfaction the dili- 
gence of this, the most serviceable, though most 
unwilling, of his subjects. In leisurely fashion 
he swung off from his perch, and presently was 
whirling in slow spirals directly over the centre of 
the lake. Up, up he mounted, till he was a mere 

Xorfc of tbe Htr $3 

speck in the blue, and seemingly oblivious of all 
that went on below; but, as he wheeled, there in 
his supreme altitude, his grim white head was 
stretched ever earthward, and his eyes lost no detail 
of the fish-hawk's diligence. 

All at once, the fish-hawk was seen to poise on 
steady wing. Then his wings closed, and he shot 
downward like a javelin. The still waters of the 
lake were broken with a violent splash, and the 
fish-hawk's body for a moment almost disappeared. 
Then, with a struggle and a heavy flapping of 
wings, the daring fisher arose, grasping in his vic- 
torious claws a large " togue " or gray lake trout. 
He rose till he was well above the tree-tops of the 
near-by shore, and then headed for his nest in the 
cedar swamp. 

This was the moment for which the eagle had 
been waiting, up in the blue. Again his vast wings 
folded themselves. Again his plumage hardened 
to a wedge of steel. Again he dropped like a 
plummet. But this time he had no slaughterous 
intent. He was merely descending out of the 
heavens to take tribute. Before he reached the 
hurrying fish-hawk he swerved upward, steadied 
himself, and flapped a menacing wing in the fish- 
hawk's face, heading it out again toward the centre 
of the lake. 

$4 tlbe 1fcin&ret> of tbe 

Frightened, angry, and obstinate, the big hawk 
clutched his prize the closer, and made futile efforts 
to reach the tree-tops. But, fleet though he was, 
he was no match for the fleetness of his master. 
The great eagle was over him, under him, around 
him, all at once, yet never striking him. The king 
was simply indicating, quite unmistakably, his 
pleasure, which was that the fish should be delivered 

Suddenly, however, seeing that the fish-hawk 
was obstinate, the eagle lost patience. It was time, 
he concluded, to end the folly. He had no wish to 
harm the fish-hawk, a most useful creature, and 
none too abundant for his kingly needs. In fact, 
he was always careful not to exact too heavy a 
tribute from the industrious fisherman, lest the latter 
should grow discouraged and remove to freer 
waters. Of the spoils of his fishing the big hawk 
was always allowed to keep enough to satisfy the 
requirements of himself and his nestlings. But 
it was necessary that there should be no foolish 
misunderstanding on the subject. 

The eagle swung away, wheeled sharply with an 
ominous, harsh rustling of stiffened feathers, and 
then came at the -hawk with a yelp and a sudden 
tremendous rush. His beak was half open. His 

ZTbe %ort> ot tbe Hlr 6 7 

great talons were drawn forward and extended for 
a deadly stroke. His wings darkened broadly over 
the fugitive. His sound, his shadow, they were 
doom itself, annihilation to the frightened hawk. 

But that deadly stroke was not delivered. The 
threat was enough. Shrinking aside with a scream 
the fish-hawk opened his claws, and the trout fell, 
a gleaming bar of 'silver in the morning light. On 
the instant the eagle half closed his wings, tilted 
sideways, and swooped. He did not drop, as he 
had descended upon the voyaging duck, but with 
a peculiar shortened wing-stroke, he flew straight 
downward for perhaps a hundred feet. Then, 
with this tremendous impulse driving him, he shot 
down like lightning, caught the fish some twenty 
feet above the water, turned, and rose in a long, 
magnificent slant, with the tribute borne in his 
talons. He sailed away majestically to his watch- 
tower on old Sugar Loaf, to make his meal at 
leisure, while the ruffled hawk beat away rapidly 
down the river to try his luck in the lower lake. 

Holding the fish firmly in the clutch of one great 
talon, the eagle tore it to pieces and swallowed it 
with savage haste. Then he straightened himself, 
twisted and stretched his neck once or twice, set- 
tled back into erect and tranquil dignity, and swept 

68 ube -fcinOrefc of tbe Kflito 

a kingly glance over all his domain, from the far 
head of Big Squatook, to the alder-crowded outlet 
of Fourth Lake. He saw unmoved the fish-hawk 
capture another prize, and fly off with it in triumph 
to his hidden nest in the swamp. He saw two 
more ducks winging their way from a sheltered 
cove to a wide, green reed-bed at the head of the 
thoroughfare. Being a right kingly monarch, he 
had no desire to trouble them. Untainted by the 
lust of killing, he killed only when the need was 
upon him. 

Having preened himself with some care, polished 
his great beak on the dry wood of the stub, and 
stretched each wing, deliberately and slowly, the 
one after the other, with crisp rustling noises, till 
each strong-shanked plume tingled pleasantly in its 
socket and fitted with the utmost nicety to its over- 
lapping fellows, he bethought him once more of the 
appetites of his nestlings. There were no more 
industrious fish-hawks in sight. Neither hare nor 
grouse was stirring in the brushy opens. No living 
creatures were visible save a pair of loons chasing 
each other off the point of Sugar Loaf Island, and 
an Indian in his canoe just paddling down to the 
outlet to spear suckers. 

The eagle knew that the loons were no concern 

%orfc of tbe Hit 69 

of his. They were never to be caught napping. 
They could dive quicker than he could swoop and 
strike. The Indian also he knew, and from long 
experience had learned to regard him as inoffensive. 
He had often watched, with feelings as near akin 
to jealousy as his arrogant heart could entertain, 
the spearing of suckers and whitefish. And now 
the sight determined him to go fishing on his own 
account. He remembered a point of shoals on 
Big Squatook where large fish were wont to lie 
basking in the sun, and where sick or disabled fish 
were frequently washed ashore. Here he might 
gather some spoil of the shallows, pending the time 
when he could again take tribute of the fish-hawk. 
Once more he launched himself from his watch- 
tower under the peak of Sugar Loaf, and sailed 
away over the serried green tops of the forest. 


Now it chanced that the old Indian, who was 
the most cunning trapper in all the wilderness of 
Northern New Brunswick, though he seemed so in- 
tent upon his fishing, was in reality watching the 
great eagle. He had anticipated, and indeed prepared 
for the regal bird's expedition to those shoals of 
the Big Squatook ; and now, as he marked the direc- 

70 ttbe lUnoreo of tbe 

tion of his flight, he clucked grimly to himself 
with satisfaction, and deftly landed a large sucker 
in the canoe. 

That very morning, before the first pallor of dawn 
had spread over Squatook, the Indian had scattered 
some fish, trout and suckers, on the shore adjoining 
the shoal water. The point he chose was where 
a dense growth of huckleberry and withe-wood ran 
out to within a few feet of the water's edge, and 
where the sand of the beach was dotted thickly with 
tufts of grass. The fish, partly hidden among these 
tufts of grass, were all distributed over a circular 
area of a diameter not greater than six or seven 
feet; and just at the centre of the baited circle the 
Indian had placed a stone about a foot high, such 
as any reasonable eagle would like to perch upon 
when making a hasty meal. He was crafty with all 
the cunning of the woods, was this old trapper, and 
he knew that a wise and experienced bird like the 
king of Sugar Loaf was not to be snared by any 
ordinary methods. But to snare him he was re- 
solved, though it should take all the rest of the 
summer to accomplish it; for a rich American, 
visiting Edmundston on the Madawaska in the 
spring, had promised him fifty dollars for a fine 
specimen of the great white headed and white tailed 

Ube Sloro of tbe Hit 7 1 

eagle of the New Brunswick lakes, if delivered at 
Edmundston alive and unhurt. 

When the eagle came to the point of shoals he 
noticed a slight change. That big stone was some- 
thing new, and therefore to be suspected. He flew 
over it without stopping, and alighted on the top 
of a dead birch-tree near by. A piercing scrutiny 
convinced him that the presence of the stone at a 
point where he was accustomed to hop awkwardly 
on the level sand, was in no way portentous, but 
rather a provision of destiny for his convenience. 
He sailed down and alighted upon the stone. 

When he saw a dead sucker lying under a grass 
tuft he considered again. Had the fish lain at the 
water's edge he would have understood; but up 
among the grasses, that was a singular situation 
for a dead fish to get itself into. He now peered 
suspiciously into the neighbouring bushes, scanned 
every tuft of grass, and cast a sweeping survey up 
and down the shores. Everything was as it should 
be. He hopped down, captured the fish, and was 
about to fly away with it to his nestlings, when 
he caught sight of another, and yet another. 
Further search revealed two more. Plainly the 
wilderness, in one of those caprices which even his 
old wisdom had not yet learned to comprehend, was 

72 Ube IKinoreo of tbe Milo 

caring very lavishly for the king. He hastily tore 
and swallowed two of the fish, and then flew away 
with the biggest of the lot to the nest behind the 
top of old Sugar Loaf. That same day he came 
twice again to the point of shoals, till there was 
not another fish left among the grass tufts. But 
on the following day, when he came again, with 
hope rather than expectation in his heart, he found 
that the supply had been miraculously renewed. 
His labours thus were greatly lightened. He had 
more time to sit upon his wind-swept watch-tower 
under the peak, viewing widely his domain, and 
leaving the diligent fish-hawks to toil in peace. 
He fell at once into the custom of perching on the 
stone at every visit, and then devouring at least 
one fish before carrying a meal to the nest. His 
surprise and curiosity as to the source of the supply 
had died out on the second day. The wild creatures 
quickly learn to accept a simple obvious good, 
however extraordinary, as one of those benefi- 
cences which the unseen powers bestow without 

By the time the eagle had come to this frame of 
mind, the old Indian was ready for the next move 
in his crafty game. He made a strong hoop of 
plaited withe-wood, about seven feet in diameter. 

TTbe Xorfc of tbe air 73 

To this he fastened an ample bag of strong salmon- 
netting, which he had brought with him from Ed- 
mundston for this purpose. To the hoop he fixed 
securely a stiff birch sapling for a handle, so that the 
affair when completed was a monster scoop-net, 
stout and durable in every part. On a moonlight 
night when he knew that the eagle was safely out 
of sight, on his eyrie around at the back of Sugar 
Loaf, the Indian stuck this gigantic scoop into the 
bow of his canoe, and paddled over to the point of 
shoals. He had never heard of any one trying to 
catch an eagle in a net; but, on the other hand, he 
had never heard of any one wanting an eagle alive, 
and being willing to emphasise his wants with fifty 
dollars. The case was plainly one that called for 
new ideas, and the Indian, who had freed himself 
from the conservatism of his race, was keenly in- 
terested in the plan which he had devised. 

The handle of the great scoop-net was about eight 
feet in length. Its butt the trapper drove slantingly 
into the sand where the water was an inch or two 
deep, bracing it securely with stones. He fixed it 
at an angle so acute that the rim of the net lay 
almost flat at a height of about four feet above the 
stone whereon the eagle was wont to perch. Under 
the uppermost edge of the hoop the trapper fixed 

74 Ube Ifcinorefc of tbe 

a firm prop, making the structure steady and secure. 
The drooping slack of the net he then caught up 
and held lightly in place on three or four willow 
twigs, so that it all lay flat within the rim. This 
accomplished to his satisfaction, he scattered fish 
upon the ground as usual, most of them close about 
the stone and within the area overshadowed by 
the net, but two or three well outside. Then he 
paddled noiselessly away across the moon-silvered 
mirror of the lake, and disappeared into the black- 
ness about the outlet. 

On the following morning, the king sat upon his 
watch-tower while the first light gilded the leaning 
summit of Sugar Loaf. His gaze swept the vast 
and shadowy basin of the landscape with its 
pointed tree-tops dimly emerging above the vapour- 
drift, and its blank, pallid spaces whereunder 
the lakes lay veiled in dream. His golden eye 
flamed fiercely under the straight and fierce white 
brow; nevertheless, when he saw, far down, two 
ducks winging their way across the lake, now for 
a second visible, now vanishing in the mist, he 
suffered them to go unstricken. The clear light 
gilded the white feathers of his head and tail, but 
sank and was absorbed in the cloudy gloom of his 
wings. For fully half an hour he sat in regal 

Xoro of tbe Hit 75 

immobility. But when at last the waters of Big 
Squatook were revealed, stripped and gleaming, he 
dropped from his perch in a tremendous, leisurely 
curve, and flew over to the point of shoals. 

As he drew near, he was puzzled and annoyed to 
see the queer structure that had been erected during 
the night above his rock. It was inexplicable. He 
at once checked his flight and began whirling in 
great circles, higher and higher, over the spot, try- 
ing in vain to make out what it was. He could see 
that the dead fish were there as usual. And at 
length he satisfied himself that no hidden peril 
lurked in the near-by huckleberry thicket. Then he 
descended to the nearest tree-top and spent a good 
half-hour in moveless watching of the net. He 
little guessed that a dusky figure, equally moveless 
and far more patient, was watching him in turn 
from a thicket across the lake. 

At the end of this long scrutiny, the eagle decided 
that a closer investigation was desirable. He flew 
down and alighted on the level sand well away from 
the net. There he found a fish which he devoured. 
Then he found another; and this he carried away 
to the eyrie. He had not solved the mystery of the 
strange structure overhanging the rock, but he had 
proved that it was not actively inimical. It had 

76 Ube fcinfcre& ot tbe TKHU& 

not interfered with his morning meal, or attempted 
to hinder him from carrying off his customary 
spoils. When he returned an hour later to the point 
of shoals the net looked less strange to him. He 
even perched on the sloping handle, balancing him- 
self with outspread wings till the swaying ceased. 
The thing was manifestly harmless. He hopped 
down, looked with keen interested eyes at the fish 
beside the rock, hopped in and clutched one out 
with beak and claw, hopped back again in a great 
hurry, and flew away with the prize to his watch- 
tower on Sugar Loaf. This caution he repeated at 
every visit throughout that day. But when he came 
again on the morrow, he had grown once more 
utterly confident. He went under the net without 
haste or apprehension, and perched unconcernedly 
on the stone in the midst of his banquet. And the 
stony face of the old Indian, in his thicket across 
the lake, flashed for one instant with a furtive grin. 
He grunted, melted back into the woods, and slipped 
away to resume his fishing at the outlet. 

The next morning, about an hour before dawn, 
a ghostly birch canoe slipped up to the point of 
shoals, and came to land about a hundred yards 
from the net. The Indian stepped out, lifted it 
from the water, and hid it in the bushes. Then he 

Xoro of tbe Hit 77 

proceeded to make some important changes in the 
arrangement of the net. 

To the topmost rim of the hoop he tied a strong 
cord, brought the free end to the ground, led it 
under a willow root, and carried it some ten paces 
back into the thicket. Next he removed the sup- 
porting prop. Going back into the thicket, he 
pulled the cord. It ran freely under the willow root, 
and the net swayed down till it covered the rock, to 
rebound to its former position the moment he re- 
leased the cord. Then he restored the prop to its 
place; but this time, instead of planting its butt 
firmly in the sand, he balanced it on a small flat 
stone, so that the least pull would instantaneously 
dislodge it. To the base of the prop he fixed another 
cord; and this also he ran under the willow root 
and carried back into the thicket. To the free end 
of this second cord he tied a scrap of red flannel, 
that there might be no mistake at a critical moment. 
The butt of the handle he loosened, so that if the 
prop were removed the net would almost fall of its 
own weight; and on the upper side of the butt, 
to give steadiness and speed of action, he leaned two 
heavy stones. Finally, he baited his trap with the 
usual dead fish, bunching them now under the centre 
of the net. Then, satisfying himself that all was in 

78 ftbe ltfn&re& of tbe TKHU& 

working order, he wormed his way into the heart 
of the thicket. A few leafy branches, cunningly dis- 
posed around and above his hiding-place, made his 
concealment perfect, while his keen black beads of 
eyes commanded a clear view of the stone beneath 
the net. The ends of the two cords were between 
his lean fingers. No waiting fox or hiding grouse 
could have lain more immovable, could have held 
his muscles in more patient perfect stillness, than 
did the wary old trapper through the chill hour of 
growing dawn. 

At last there came a sound that thrilled even 
such stoic nerves as his. Mighty wings hissed in 
the air above his head. The next moment he saw 
the eagle alight upon the level sand beside the net. 
This time there was no hesitation. The great bird, 
for all his wisdom, had been lured into accepting 
the structure as a part of the established order of 
things. He hopped with undignified alacrity right 
under the net, clutched a large whitefish, and 
perched himself on the stone to enjoy his meal. 

At that instant he felt, rather than saw, the 
shadow of a movement in the thicket. Or rather, 
perhaps, some inward, unaccredited guardian sig- 
nalled to him of danger. His muscles gathered 
themselves for that instantaneous spring wherewith 


%oro of tbe Hit 81 

he was wont to hurl himself into the air. But even 
that electric speed of his was too slow for this 
demand. Ere he could spring, the great net came 
down about him with a vicious swish; and in a 
moment beating wings, tearing beak, and clutching 
talons were helplessly intertangled in the meshes. 
Before he could rip himself free, a blanket was 
thrown over him. He was ignominiously rolled 
into a bundle, picked up, and carried off under the 
old Indian's arm. 


When the king was gone, it seemed as if a hush 
had fallen over the country of the Squatooks. When 
the old pine beneath the toppling peak of Sugar Loaf 
had stood vacant all the long golden hours of the 
morning, two crows flew up from the fir-woods to 
investigate. They hopped up and down on the 
sacred seat, cawing impertinently and excitedly. 
Then in a sudden flurry of apprehension they darted 
away. News of the great eagle's mysterious ab- 
sence spread quickly among the wood folk, not 
by direct communication, indeed, except in the case 
of the crows, but subtly and silently, as if by some 
telepathic code intelligible alike to mink and wood- 
mouse, kingfisher and lucifee. 

82 Ube *Rin&re& ot tbc 

When the noon had gone by, and the shadow of 
Sugar Loaf began to creep over the edge of the 
nest, the old mother eagle grew uneasy at the pro- 
longed absence of her mate. Never before since 
the nestlings broke the shell had he been so long 
away. Never before had she been compelled to real- 
ise how insatiable were the appetites of her young. 
She flew around to the pine-tree on the other side 
of the peak, and finding it vacant, something told 
her it had been long unoccupied. Then she flew 
hither and thither over all the lakes, a fierce loneli- 
ness growing in her heart. From the long grasses 
around the mouth of the thoroughfare between third 
and fourth lakes a heron arose, flapping wide bluish 
wings, and she dropped upon it savagely. However 
her wild heart ached, the nestlings must be fed. 
With the long limp neck and slender legs of the 
heron trailing from her talons, she flew away to the 
eyrie; and she came no more to the Squatooks. 

The knowledge of all the woodfolk around the 
lakes had been flashed in upon her, and she knew 
some mysterious doom had fallen upon her mate. 
Thereafter, though the country of the Squatooks 
was closer at hand and equally well stocked with 
game, and though the responsibilities of her hunting 
had been doubled, she kept strictly to her old 

Ube Xorfc of tbe Hit 85 

hunting-ground of the Tuladis. Everything on the 
north side of old Sugar Loaf had grown hateful to 
her ; and unmolested within half a mile of the eyrie, 
the diligent fish-hawks plied their craft, screaming 
triumphantly over every capture. The male, indeed, 
growing audacious after the king had been a whole 
week absent, presumed so far as to adopt the old 
pine-tree under the peak for his perch, to the loud 
and disconcerting derision of the crows. They 
flocked blackly about with vituperative malice, driv- 
ing him to forsake his seat of usurpation and soar 
indignantly to heights where they could not follow. 
But at last the game palled upon their whimsical 
fancies, and they left him in peace to his aping of 
the king. 

Meanwhile, in the village of Edmundston, in the 
yard of a house that stood ever enfolded in the 
sleepless roar of the Falls of Madawaska, the king 
was eating out his sorrowful and tameless heart. 
Around one steely-scaled leg, just above the spread 
of the mighty claws, he wore the ragged ignominy 
of a bandage of soiled red flannel. This was to pre- 
vent the chafing of the clumsy and rusty dog-chain 
which secured him to his perch in an open shed that 
looked out upon the river. Across the river, across 
the cultivated valley with its roofs, and farther 

86 trbe 1Rfn&re& of tbe Milt) 

across the forest hills than any human eye could see, 
his eye could see a dim summit, as it were a faint 
blue cloud on the horizon, his own lost realm of 
Sugar Loaf. Hour after hour he would sit upon his 
rude perch, unstirring, unwinking, and gaze upon 
this faint blue cloud of his desire. 

From his jailers he accepted scornfully his daily 
rations of fish, ignoring the food while any one 
was by, but tearing it and gorging it savagely when 
left alone. As week after week dragged on, his 
hatred of his captors gathered force, but he showed 
no sign. Fear he was hardly conscious of; or, 
at least, he had never felt that panic fear which 
unnerves even kings, except during the one appal- 
ling moment when he felt the falling net encumber 
his wings, and the trapper's smothering blanket shut 
out the sun from his eyes. Now, when any one of 
his jailers approached and sought to win his con- 
fidence, he would shrink within himself and harden 
his feathers with wild inward aversion, but his 
eye of piercing gold would neither dim nor waver, 
and a clear perception of the limits of his chain 
would prevent any futile and ignoble struggle to 
escape. Had he shown more fear, more wildness, 
his jailers would have more hope of subduing him 
in some measure ; but as it was, being back country 

tTbe %orfc of tbe Hit 87 

men with some knowledge of the wilderness folk, 
they presently gave him up as tameless and left off 
troubling him with their attentions. They took 
good care of him, however, for they were to be 
well paid for their trouble when the rich American 
came for his prize. 

At last he came; and when he saw the king he 
was glad. Trophies he had at home in abundance, 
the skins of lions which he had shot on the 
Zambesi, of tigers from Himalayan foot-hills, of 
grizzlies from Alaskan canons, and noble heads 
of moose and caribou from these very highlands of 
Squatook, whereon the king had been wont to look 
from his dizzy gyres of flight above old Sugar Loaf. 
But the great white-headed eagle, who year after 
year had baffled his woodcraft and eluded his rifle, 
he had come to love so that he coveted him alive. 
Now, having been apprised of the capture of so 
fine and well-known a bird as the king of old 
Sugar Loaf, he had brought with him an anklet 
of thick, soft leather for the illustrious captive's 
leg, and a chain of wrought steel links, slender, 
delicate, and strong. On the morning after his 
arrival the new chain was to be fitted. 

The great eagle was sitting erect upon his perch, 
gazing at the faint blue cloud which he alone could 

88 Ube liin&re& ot tbc Milt) 

see, when two men came to the shed beside the 
river. One he knew. It was his chief jailer, the 
man who usually brought fish. The other was a 
stranger, who carried in his hand a long, glittering 
thing that jangled and stirred a vague apprehension 
in his heart. The jailer approached, and with a 
quick movement wrapped him in a coat, till beak 
and wings and talons alike were helpless. There 
was one instinctive, convulsive spasm within the 
wrapping, and the bundle was still, the great bird 
being too proud as well as too wise to waste force 
in a vain struggle. 

" Seems pretty tame already," remarked the 
stranger, in a tone of satisfaction. 

" Tame! " exclaimed the countryman. " Them's 
the kind as don't tame. I've give up trying to tame 
him. Ef you keep him, an' feed him, an' coax him 
for ten year, he'll be as wild as the day Gabe snared 
him up on Big Squatook." 

" We'll see," said the stranger, who had confi- 
dence in his knowledge of the wild folk. 

Seating himself on a broken-backed chair just 
outside the shadow of the shed, where the light 
was good, the countryman held the motionless 
bundle firmly across his knees, and proceeded cau- 
tiously to free the fettered leg. He held it in an 

ttbe Xorfc of tbe Hit 89 

inflexible grip, respecting those knife-edged claws. 
Having removed the rusty dog-chain and the igno- 
minious red flannel bandage, he fitted dexterously 
the soft leather anklet, with its three tiny silver 
buckles, and its daintily engraved plate, bearing the 
king's name with the place and date of his capture. 
Then he reached out his hand for the new steel 

The eagle, meanwhile, had been slowly and im- 
perceptibly working his head free ; and now, behind 
the countryman's arm, he looked out from the im- 
prisoning folds of the coat. Fierce, wild, but unaf- 
frighted, his eye caught the glitter of the chain as 
the stranger held it out. That glitter moved him 
strangely. On a sudden impulse he opened his 
mighty beak, and tore savagely at the countryman's 

With a yell of pain and surprise the man at- 
tempted to jump away from this assault. But as the 
assailant was on his lap this was obviously impos- 
sible. The muscles of his leg stiffened out instinc- 
tively, and the broken-backed chair gave way 
under the strain. Arms and legs flew wildly in 
the air as he sprawled backward, and the coat fell 
apart, and the eagle found himself free. The 
stranger sprang forward to clutch his treasured 

9 Ube Idnorefc of tbe TlflUio 

captive, but received a blinding buffet from the 
great wings undestined to captivity. The next 
moment the king bounded upward. The air whis- 
tled under his tremendous wing-strokes. Up, up 
he mounted, leaving the men to gape after him, 
flushed and foolish. Then he headed his flight for 
that faint blue cloud beyond the hills. 

That afternoon there was a difference in the 
country of the Squatooks. The nestlings in the 
eyrie bigger and blacker and more clamorous 
they were now than when he went away found 
more abundant satisfaction to their growing appe- 
tites. Their wide-winged mother, hunting away on 
Tuladi, hunted with more joyous heart. The fish- 
hawks on the Squatook waters came no more near 
the blasted pine; but they fished more diligently, 
and their hearts were big with indignation over the 
spoils which they had been forced to deliver up. 

The crows far down in the fir-tops were garrulous 
about the king's return, and the news spread swiftly 
among the mallards, the muskrats, the hares, and 
the careful beavers. And the solitude about the 
toppling peak of old Sugar Loaf seemed to resume 
some lost sublimity, as the king resumed his throne 
among the winds. 

TOilfc fl&otberboofc 

deep snow in the moose-yard was 
trodden down to the moss, and darkly 
soiled with many days of occupancy. 
The young spruce and birch trees which lined 
the trodden paths were cropped of all but their 
toughest and coarsest branches; and the wall 
of loftier growth which fenced the yard was 
stripped of its tenderer twigs to the utmost height 
of the tall bull's neck. The available provender was 
all but gone, and the herd was in that restlessness 
which precedes a move to new pastures. 

The herd of moose was a small one three 
gaunt, rusty-brown, slouching cows, two ungainly 
calves of a lighter hue, and one huge, high-shoul- 
dered bull, whose sweep of palmated antlers bristled 
like a forest. Compared with the towering bulk 
of his forequarters, the massive depth of his rough- 
maned neck, the weight of the formidable antlers, 
the length and thickness of his clumsy, hooked 
muzzle with its prehensile upper lip, his lean and 


94 Ube IRiufcreo of tbe Milo 

frayed hindquarters looked grotesquely diminutive. 
Surprised by three days of blinding snowfall, the 
great bull-moose had been forced to establish the 
yard for his herd in an unfavourable neighbour- 
hood; and now he found himself confronted by 
the necessity of a long march through snow of 
such softness and depth as would make swift move- 
ment impossible and fetter him in the face of his 
enemies. In deep snow the moose can neither flee 
nor fight, at both of which he is adept under fair 
conditions ; and deep snow, as he knew, is the oppor- 
tunity of the wolf and the hunter. But in this 
case the herd had no choice. It was simply take 
the risk or starve. 

That same night, when the moon was rising 
round and white behind the fir-tops, the tall bull 
breasted and trod down the snowy barriers, and 
led his herd off northward between the hemlock 
trunks and the jutting granite boulders. He moved 
slowly, his immense muzzle stretched straight out 
before him, the bony array of his antlers laid back 
level to avoid the hindrance of clinging boughs. 
Here and there a hollow under the level surface 
would set him plunging and wallowing for a 
moment, but in the main his giant strength enabled 
him to forge his way ahead with a steady majesty 


flDotberboofc 97 

of might. Behind him, in dutiful line, came the 
three cows; and behind these, again, the calves fol- 
lowed at ease in a clear trail, their muzzles not 
outstretched like that of the leader, but drooping 
almost to the snow, their high shoulders working 
awkwardly at every stride. In utter silence, like 
dark, monstrous spectres, the line of strange shapes 
moved on; and down the bewildering, ever-rear- 
ranging forest corridors the ominous fingers of long 
moonlight felt curiously after them. When they 
had journeyed for some hours the herd came out 
upon a high and somewhat bare plateau, dotted 
sparsely with clumps of aspen, stunted yellow birch, 
and spruce. From this table-land the streaming 
northwest winds had swept the snow almost clean, 
carrying it off to fill the neighbouring valleys. 
The big bull, who knew where he was going and 
had no will to linger on the way, halted only for 
a few minutes' browsing, and then started forward 
on a long, swinging trot. At every stride his loose- 
hung, wide-cleft, spreading hoofs came sharply 
together with a flat, clacking noise. The rest of 
the line swept dutifully into place, and the herd 
was off. 

But not all the herd. One of the calves, tempted 
a little aside by a thicket of special juiciness and 

98 ZTbe fttufcreO of tbe 

savour, took alarm, and thought he was going to 
be left behind. He sprang forward, a powerful but 
clumsy stride, careless of his footing. A treacher- 
ous screen of snow-crusted scrub gave way, and he 
slid sprawling to the bottom of a little narrow gully 
or crevice, a natural pitfall. His mother, looking 
solicitously backward, saw him disappear. With 
a heave of her shoulders, a sweep of her long, 
hornless head, an anxious flick of her little naked 
tail, she swung out of the line and trotted swiftly 
to the rescue. 

There was nothing she could do. The crevice 
was some ten or twelve feet long and five or six 
in width, with sides almost perpendicular. The calf 
could just reach its bushy edges with his upstretched 
muzzle, but he could get no foothold by which to 
clamber out. On every side he essayed it, falling 
back with a hoarse bleat from each frightened effort ; 
while the mother, with head down and piteous eyes 
staring upon him, ran round and round the rim of 
the trap. At last, when he stopped and stood with 
palpitating sides and wide nostrils of terror, she, 
too, halted. Dropping awkwardly upon her knees 
in the snowy bushes, with loud, blowing breaths, she 
reached down her head to nose and comfort him 
with her sensitive muzzle. The calf leaned up as 


/IDotberboofc *i 

close as possible to her caresses. Under their 
tenderness the tremblings of his gaunt, pathetic 
knees presently ceased. And in this position the 
two remained almost motionless for an hour, under 
the white, unfriendly moon. The herd had gone 
on without them. 


In the wolf's cave in the great blue and white 
wall of plaster-rock, miles back beside the rushing 
of the river, there was famine. The she-wolf, 
heavy and near her time, lay agonising in the 
darkest corner of the cave, licking in grim silence 
the raw stump of her right foreleg. Caught in .a 
steel trap, she had gnawed off her own paw as the 
price of freedom. She could not hunt; and the 
hunting was bad that winter in the forests by the 
blue and white wall. The wapiti deer had migrated 
to safer ranges, and her gray mate, hunting alone, 
was hard put to it to keep starvation from the cave. 

The gray wolf trotted briskly down the broken 
face of the plaster-rock, in the full glare of the 
moon, and stood for a moment to sniff the air that 
came blowing lightly but keenly over the stiff tops 
of the forest. The wind was clean. It gave him 
no tidings of a quarry. Descending hurriedly the 

102 Ube ftttft^ of tbe 

last fifty yards of the slope, he plunged into the 
darkness of the fir woods. Soft as was the snow 
in those quiet recesses, it was yet sufficiently packed 
to support him as he trotted, noiseless and alert, on 
the broad-spreading pads of his paws. Furtive 
and fierce, he slipped through the shadow like a 
ghost. Across the open glades he fleeted more 
swiftly, a bright and sinister shape, his head swing- 
ing a little from side to side, every sense upon the 
watch. His direction was pretty steadily to the 
west of north. 

He had travelled long, till the direction of 
the moon-shadows had taken a different angle to his 
path, when suddenly there came a scent upon the 
wind. He stopped, one foot up, arrested in his 
stride. The gray, cloudy brush of his tail stiffened 
out. His nostrils, held high to catch every waft 
of the new scent, dilated; and the edges of his 
upper lip came down over the white fangs, from 
which they had been snarlingly withdrawn. His 
pause was but for a breath or two. Yes, there was 
no mistaking it. The scent was moose very far 
off, but moose, without question. He darted for- 
ward at a gallop, but with his muzzle still held 
high, following that scent up the wind. 

Presently he struck the trail of the herd. An 

Wiilb flDotberfeoofc 103 

instant's scrutiny told his trained sense that there 
were calves and young cows, one or another of 
which he might hope to stampede by his cunning. 
The same instant's scrutiny revealed to him that 
the herd had passed nearly an hour ahead of him. 
Up went the gray cloud of his tail and down went 
his nose; and then he straightened himself to his 
top speed, compared to which the pace wherewith 
he had followed the scent up the wind was a mere 
casual sauntering. 

When he emerged upon the open plateau and 
reached the spot where the herd had scattered to 
browse, he slackened his pace and went warily, 
peering from side to side. The cow-moose, lying 
down in the bushes to fondle her imprisoned young, 
was hidden from his sight for the moment ; and so 
it chanced that before he discovered her he came 
between her and the wind. That scent it was 
the taint of death to her. It went through her 
frame like an electric shock. With a snort of fear 
and fury she heaved to her feet and stood, wide- 
eyed and with lowered brow, facing the menace. 

The wolf heard that snorting challenge, and saw 
the awkward bulk of her shoulders as she rose 
above the scrub. His jaws wrinkled back tightly, 
baring the full length of his keen white fangs, and 

io 4 Ube Ikinfcreo of tbe TPGUifc 

a greenish phosphorescent film seemed to pass sud- 
denly across his narrowed eyeballs. But he did 
not spring at once to the attack. He was surprised. 
Moreover, he inferred the calf, from the presence 
of the cow apart from the rest of the herd. And 
a full-grown cow-moose, with the mother fury in 
her heart, he knew to be a dangerous adversary. 
Though she was hornless, he knew the force of her 
battering front, the swift, sharp stroke of her hoof, 
the dauntless intrepidity of her courage. Further, 
though his own courage and the avid urge of his 
hunger might have led him under other circum- 
stances to attack forthwith, to-night he knew that 
he must take no chances. The cave in the blue 
and white rocks was depending on his success. His 
mate, wounded and heavy with young if he let 
himself get disabled in this hunting she must perish 
miserably. With prudent tactics, therefore, he 
circled at a safe distance around the hidden pit; 
and around its rim circled the wary mother, pre- 
senting to him ceaselessly the defiance of her huge 
and sullen front. By this means he easily concluded 
that the calf was a prisoner in the pit. This being 
the case, he knew that with patience and his experi- 
enced craft the game was safely his. He drew off 
some half-dozen paces, and sat upon his haunches 



TKaut> flDotberboofc 107 

contemplatively to weigh the situation. Everything 
had turned out most fortunately for his hunting, 
and food would no longer be scarce in the cave of 

the painted rocks. 


That same night, in a cabin of unutterable loneli- 
ness some miles to the west of the trail from the 
moose-yard, a sallow-faced, lean backwoodsman was 
awakened by the moonlight streaming into his face 
through the small square window. He glanced at 
the embers on trie open hearth, and knew that for 
the white maple logs to have so burned down he 
must have been sleeping a good six hours. And 
he had turned in soon after the early winter sunset. 
Rising on his elbow, he threw down the gaudy 
patchwork quilt of red, yellow, blue, and mottled 
squares, which draped the bunk in its corner against 
the rough log walls. He looked long at the thin 
face of his wife, whose pale brown hair lay over 
the bare arm crooked beneath her cheek. Her lips 
looked pathetically white in the decolourising rays 
which streamed through the window. His mouth, 
stubbled with a week's growth of dark beard, 
twitched curiously as he looked. Then he got up, 
very noiselessly. Stepping across the bare, hard 
room, whose austerity the moon made more austere, 

io8 abe Ignores of tbe Wflo 

he gazed into a trundle-bed where a yellow-haired, 
round-faced boy slept, with the chubby sprawling 
legs and arms of perfect security. The lad's face 
looked pale to his troubled eyes. 

" It's fresh meat they want, the both of 'em," he 
muttered to himself. " They can't live and thrive 
on pork an' molasses, nohow ! " 

His big fingers, clumsily gentle, played for a 
moment with the child's yellow curls. Then he 
pulled a thick, gray homespun hunting-shirt over 
his head, hitched his heavy trousers up under his 
belt, clothed his feet in three pairs of home-knit 
socks and heavy cowhide moccasins, took down his 
rifle, cartridge-pouch, and snowshoes from their 
nails on the moss-chinked wall, cast one tender look 
on the sleepers' faces, and slipped out of the cabin 
door as silently as a shadow. 

" I'll have fresh meat for them before next 
sundown," he vowed to himself. 

Outside, amid the chips of his chopping, with 
a rough well-sweep on one hand and a rougher barn 
on the other, he knelt to put on his snowshoes. The 
cabin stood, a desolate, silver-gray dot in the waste 
of snow, naked to the steely skies of winter. With 
the curious improvidence of the backwoodsman, he 
had cut down every tree in the neighbourhood of 

flDotberboofc 109 

the cabin, and the thick woods which might so 
well have sheltered him stood acres distant on 
every side. When he had settled the thongs of his 
snowshoes over his moccasins quite to his satis- 
faction, he straightened himself with a deep breath, 
pulled his cap well down over his ears, slung his 
rifle over his shoulder, and started out with the 
white moon in his face. 

In the ancient forest, among the silent wilderness 
folk, things happen with the slow inexorableness 
of time. For days, for weeks, nothing may befall. 
Hour may tread noiselessly on hour, apparently 
working no change; yet all the time the forces are 
assembling, and at last doom strikes. The violence 
is swift, and soon done. And then the great, still 
world looks inscrutable, unhurried, changeless as 

So, after long tranquillity, .the forces of fate were 
assembling about that high plateau in the wilder- 
ness. The backwoodsman could no longer endure 
to see the woman and boy pining for the tonic, 
vitalising juices of fresh meat. He was not a 
professional hunter. Absorbed in the clearing and 
securing of a farm in the free forest, he cared not 
to kill for the killing's sake. For his own part, he 
was well content with his salt pork, beans and 

no tlbe Ifciufcrefc of tbe Milt) 

molasses, and corn-meal mush; but when occasion 
called, he could handle a rifle as backwoodsmen 
should. On this night, he was all hunter, and his 
quiet, wide-open eye, alert for every woodland sign, 
had a fire in it that would have looked strange to 
the wife and child. 

His long strides carried him swiftly through 
the glimmering glades. Journeying to the north 
of east, as the gray wolf had to the north of west, 
he too, before long, struck the trail of the moose, 
but at a point far beyond that at which the wolf 
had come upon it. So trampled and confused a 
trail it was, however, that for a time he took no 
note of the light wolf track among the heavy foot- 
prints of the moose. Suddenly it caught his eye 
one print on a smooth spread of snow, empha- 
sised in a pour of unobstructed radiance. He 
stopped, scrutinised the trail minutely to assure 
himself he had but a single wolf to deal with, then 
resumed his march with new zest and springier 
pace. Hunting was not without its relish for him 
when it admitted some savour of the combat. 

The cabin stood in the valley lands just back of 
the high plateau, and so it chanced that the back- 
woodsman had not far to travel that night. Where 
the trail broke into the open, he stopped, and rec- 

/iDotberboot) m 

onnoitred cautiously through a screen of hemlock 
boughs. He saw the big gray wolf sitting straight 
up on his haunches, his tongue hanging out, con- 
templating securely his intended prey. He saw the 
dark shape of the cow-moose, obstinately confront- 
ing her foe, her hindquarters backed close up to 
the edge of the gully. He caught the fierce and 
anxious gleam of her eyes, as she rolled them back- 
ward for an instant's reassuring glance at her 
young one. And, though he could not see the calf 
in its prisoning pit, he understood the whole situ- 

Well, there was a bounty on wolf-snouts, and this 
fellow's pelt was worth considering. As for the 
moose, he knew that not a broadside of cannon 
would scare her away from that hole in the rocks 
so long as the calf was in it. He took careful aim 
from his covert. At the report the wolf shot into 
the air, straightened out, and fell upon the snow, 
kicking dumbly, a bullet through his neck. As the 
light faded from his fierce eyes, with it faded out 
a vision of the cave in the painted rocks. In half 
a minute he lay still; and the cow-moose, startled 
by his convulsive leaps more than by the rifle-shot, 
blew and snorted, eyeing him with new suspicion. 
Her spacious flank was toward the hunter. He, 

H2 tlbe "fcinoreo of tbe TKflUo 

with cool but hasty fingers, slipped a fresh cartridge 
into the breech, and aimed with care at a spot low 
down behind the fore-shoulder. 

Again rang out the thin, vicious report, slapping 
the great silences in the face. The woodsman's 
aim was true. With a cough the moose fell for- 
ward on her knees. Then, with a mighty, shud- 
dering effort, she got up, turned about, and fell 
again with her head over the edge of the crevice. 
Her awkward muzzle touched and twitched against 
the neck of the frightened calf, and with a heavy 
sigh she lay still. 

The settler stepped out from his hiding-place, 
and examined with deep satisfaction the results of 
his night's hunting. Already he saw the colour 
coming back into the pale cheeks of the woman and 
the child. The wolf's pelt and snout, too, he thought 
to himself, would get them both some little things 
they'd like, from the cross-roads store, next time 
he went in for corn-meal. Then, there was the 
calf no meat like moose-veal, after all. He 
drew his knife from its sheath. But, no; he hated 
butchering. He slipped the knife back, reloaded his 
rifle, stepped to the side of the pit, and stood 
looking down at the baby captive, where it leaned 
nosing in piteous bewilderment at the head of its 
dead mother. 

TIGUtfc /iDotberboofc "3 

Again the woodsman changed his mind. He bit 
off a chew of black tobacco, and for some moments 
stood deliberating, stubbly chin in hand. " I'll save 
him for the boy to play with and bring up," he at 
last decided. 

Ibomesicfeness of Ikebcmfca 

HE April night, softly chill and full of 
the sense of thaw, was closing down 
over the wide salt marshes. Near at 
hand the waters of the Tantramar, resting at full 
tide, glimmered through the dusk and lapped faintly 
among the winter-ruined remnants of the sedge. 
Far off infinitely far it seemed in that illusive 
atmosphere, which was clear, yet full of the ghosts 
of rain the last of daylight lay in a thin streak, 
pale and sharp, along a vast arc of the horizon. 
Overhead it was quite dark; for there was no 
moon, and the tenuous spring clouds were suffi- 
cient to shut out the stars. They clung in mid- 
heaven, but kept to their shadowy ranks without 
descending to obscure the lower air. Space and 
mystery, mystery and space, lay abroad upon the 
vague levels of marsh and tide. 

Presently, from far along the dark heights of 
the sky, came voices, hollow, musical, confused. 
Swiftly they journeyed nearer; they grew louder. 


us Ube Itfnoreo of tbe 

The sound not vibrant, yet strangely far-carry- 
ing was a clamorous monotony of honk-a-honk, 
honk-a-honk, honka, honka, honk, honk. It hinted 
of wide distance voyaged over on tireless wings, 
of a tropic winter passed in feeding amid remote, 
high-watered meadows of Mexico and Texas, of 
long flights yet to go, toward the rocky tarns of 
Labrador and the reed beds of Ungava. As the 
sound passed straight overhead the listener on the 
marsh below imagined, though he could not see, 
the strongly beating wings, the outstretched necks 
and heads, the round, unswerving eyes of the 
wild goose flock in its V-shaped array, winnowing 
steadily northward through the night. But this 
particular flock was not set, as it chanced, upon 
an all-night journey. The wise old gander winging 
at the head of the V knew of good feeding-grounds 
near by, which he was ready to revisit. He led 
the flock straight on, above the many windings of 
the Tantramar, till its full-flooded sheen far below 
him narrowed and narrowed to a mere brook. 
Here, in the neighbourhood of the uplands, were a 
number of shallow, weedy, fresh-water lakes, with 
shores so choked with thickets and fenced apart 
with bogs as to afford a security which his years 
and broad experience had taught him to value. 

Ube Homesickness of Uebonfta "9 

Into one of these lakes, a pale blur amid the thick 
shadows of the shores, the flock dropped with heavy 
splashings. A scream or two of full-throated con- 
tent, a few flappings of wings and rufflings of plu- 
mage in the cool, and the voyagers settled into quiet. 
All night there was silence around the flock, save 
for the whispering seepage of the snow patches 
that still lingered among the thickets. With the 
first creeping pallor of dawn the geese began to 
feed, plunging their long black necks deep into the 
water and feeling with the sensitive inner edges 
of their bills for the swelling root-buds of weed 
and sedge. When the sun was about the edge of 
the horizon, and the first rays came sparkling, of 
a chilly pink most luminous and pure, through the 
lean traceries of the brushwood, the leader raised 
his head high and screamed a signal. With answer- 
ing cries and a tempestuous splashing the flock 
flapped for a few yards along the surface of the 
water. Then they rose clear, formed quickly into 
rank, and in their spacious V went honking north- 
ward over the half-lighted, mysterious landscape. 
But, as it chanced, not all of the flock set out 
with that morning departure. There was one pair, 
last year's birds, upon whom had fallen a weari- 
ness of travel. Perhaps in the coils of their brains 

120 irbe liin&reo of tbe TKHilfc 

lurked some inherited memory of these safe resting- 
places and secluded feeding-grounds of the Midgic 
lakes. However that may have been, they chose 
to stay where they were, feeling in their blood no 
call from the cold north solitudes. Dipping and 
bowing, black neck by neck, they gave no heed 
to the leader's signal, nor to the noisy going of 
the flock. Pushing briskly with the black webs of 
their feet against the discoloured water, they swam 
to the shore and cast about for a place to build 
their nest. 

There was no urgent hurry, so they chose not 
on that day nor the next. When they chose, it 
was a little bushy islet off a point of land, well 
tangled with alder and osier and a light flotsam of 
driftwood. The nest, in the heart of the tangle, 
was an apparently haphazard collection of sticks and 
twigs, well raised above the damp, well lined with 
moss and feathers. Here, in course of days, there 
accumulated a shining cluster of six large white 
eggs. But by this time the spring freshet had gone 
down. The islet was an islet no longer, but a 
mere adjunct of the point, which any inquisitive 
foot might reach dry shod. Now just at this time 
it happened that a young farmer, who had a curious 
taste for all the wild kindred of wood, and flood, 

Hiomesicfeness of ftebonfta iai 

and air, came up from the Lower Tantramar with 
a wagon-load of grist for the Midgic mill. While 
his buckwheat and barley were a-grinding, he 
thought of a current opinion to the effect that the 
wild geese were given to nesting in the Midgic lakes. 
" If so," said he to himself, " this is the time they 
would be about it." Full of interest, a half-hour's 
tramp through difficult woods brought him to the 
nearest of the waters. An instinct, an intuition 
born of his sympathy with the furtive folk, led him 
to the point, and out along the point to that once 
islet, with its secret in the heart of the tangle. Vain 
were the furious hissings, the opposing wings, the 
wide black bills that threatened and oppugned him. 
With the eager delight of a boy he pounced upon 
those six great eggs, and carried them all away. 
" They will soon turn out another clutch," said he 
to himself, as he left the bereaved pair, and tramped 
elatedly back to the mill. As for the bereaved pair, 
being of a philosophic spirit, they set themselves to 
fulfil as soon as possible his prophecy. 

On the farm by the Lower Tantramar, in a hogs- 
head half filled with straw and laid on its side in 
a dark corner of the tool-shed, those six eggs were 
diligently brooded for four weeks and two days 
by a comfortable gray and white goose of the com- 

122 ube ikinorefc of tbe TKIUlo 

mon stock. When they hatched, the good gray and 
white mother may have been surprised to find her 
goslings of an olive green hue, instead of the bright 
golden yellow which her past experience and that 
of her fellows had taught her to expect. She may 
have marvelled, too, at their unwonted slenderness 
and activity. These trivial details, however, in no 
way dampened the zeal with which she led them 
to the goose pond, or the fidelity with which she 
pastured and protected them. But rats, skunks, 
sundry obscure ailments, and the heavy wheels of 
the farm wagon, are among the perils which, the 
summer through, lie in wait for all the children of 
the feathered kin upon the farm; and so it came 
about that of the six young ones so successfully 
hatched from the wild goose eggs, only two lived 
till the coming of autumn brought them full plumage 
and the power of flight. Before the time of the 
southward migration came near, the young farmer 
took these two and clipped from each the strong 
primaries of their right wings. " They seem con- 
tented enough, and tame as any," he said to himself, 
" but you never can tell what'll happen when the 
instinct strikes 'em." 

Both the young wild geese were fine males. 
Their heads and long, slim necks were black, as 

TCbe Utomesfcfeness of IKebonfca 123 

were also their tails, great wing feathers, bills, and 
feet. Under the tail their feathers were of snowiest 
white, and all the other portions of their bodies a 
rich grayish brown. Each bore on the side of its 
face a sharply defined triangular patch of white, 
mottled with faint brown markings that would dis- 
appear after his first moult. In one the white cheek 
patches met under the throat. This was a large, 
strongly built bird, of a placid and domestic temper. 
He was satisfied with the undistinguished gray 
companions of the flock. He was content, like them, 
to gutter noisily with his discriminating bill along 
the shallow edges of the pond, to float and dive and 
flap in the deeper centre, to pasture at random over 
the wet meadow, biting off the short grasses with 
quick, sharp, yet gracefully curving dabs. Goose 
pond and wet meadow and cattle-trodden barnyard 
bounded his aspirations. When his adult voice 
came to him, all he would say was honk, honk, con- 
templatively, and sometimes honk-a-honk when he 
flapped his wings in the exhilarating coolness of 
the sunrise. The other captive was of a more 
restless temperament, slenderer in build, more eager 
and alert of eye, less companionable of mood. He 
was, somehow, never seen in the centre of the flock 
he never seemed a part of it. He fed, swam, 

124 TCbe Tfcinfcreo of tbe TKHU& 

rested, preened himself, always a little apart. Often, 
when the others were happily occupied with their 
familiar needs and satisfactions, he would stand 
motionless, his compact, glossy head high in air, 
looking to the north as if in expectation, listening 
as if he awaited longed-for tidings. The triangular 
white patch on each side of his head was very 
narrow, and gave him an expression of wildness; 
yet in reality he was no more wild, or rather no 
more shy, than any others of the flock. None, 
indeed, had so confident a fearlessness as he. He 
would take oats out of the farmer's hand, which 
none of the rest quite dared to do. 

Until late in the autumn, the lonely, uncomraded 
bird was always silent. But when the migrating 
flocks began to pass overhead, on the long southward 
trail, and their hollow clamour was heard over the 
farmstead night and morning, he grew more rest- 
less. He would take a short run with outspread 
wings, and then, feeling their crippled inefficiency, 
would stretch himself to his full height and call, a 
sonorous, far-reaching cry ke-honk-a, ke-honk-a. 
From this call, so often repeated throughout Octo- 
ber and November, the farmer named him Kehonka. 
The farmer's wife favoured the more domesticated 
and manageable brother, who could be trusted 


IKomestcfeness ot Ifcebonfca 127 

never to stray. But the farmer, who mused deeply 
over his furrows, and half wistfully loved the wild 
kindred, loved Kehonka, and used to say he would 
not lose the bird for the price of a steer. " That 
there bird," he would say, " has got dreams away 
down in his heart. Like as not, he remembers 
things his father and mother have seen, up amongst 
the ice cakes and the northern lights, or down 
amongst the bayous and the big southern lilies." 
But all his sympathy failed to make him repent of 
having clipped Kehonka's wing. 

During the long winter, when the winds swept 
fiercely the open marshes of the Tantramar, and the 
snow piled in high drifts around the barns and wood 
piles, and the sheds were darkened, and in the sun 
at noonday the strawy dungheaps steamed, the rest 
of the geese remained listlessly content. But not so 
Kehonka. Somewhere back of his brain he cher- 
ished pre-natal memories of warm pools in the 
South, where leafy screens grew rank, and the sweet- 
rooted water-plants pulled easily from the deep 
black mud, and his true kindred were screaming 
to each other at the oncoming of the tropic dark. 
While the flock was out in the barnyard, pulling 
lazily at the trampled litter, and snatching scraps of 
the cattle's chopped turnips, Kehonka would stand 

128 ttbe TRmfcrefc of tbe 

aloof by the water-trough, his head erect, listening, 
longing. As the winter sun sank early over the 
fir woods back of the farm, his wings would open, 
and his desirous cry would go echoing three or 
four times across the still countryside ke-honk-a 
ke-honk-a ke-honk-a ! Whereat the farmer's 
wife, turning her buckwheat pancakes over the hot 
kitchen stove, would mutter impatiently; but the 
farmer, slipping to the door of the cow-stable with 
the bucket of feed in his hand, would look with 
deep eyes of sympathy at the unsatisfied bird. " He 
wants something that we don't grow round here," 
he would say to himself; and little by little the 
bird's restlessness came to seem to him the concrete 
embodiment of certain dim outreachings of his own. 
He, too, caught himself straining his gaze beyond 
the marsh horizons of Tantramar. 

When the winter broke, and the seeping drifts 
shrank together, and the brown of the ploughed 
fields came through the snow in patches, and the 
slopes leading down to the marshland were sud- 
denly loud with running water, Kehonka's restless- 
ness grew so eager that he almost forgot to feed. It 
was time, he thought, for the northward flight to 
begin. He would stand for hours, turning first one 
dark eye, then the other, toward the soft sky over- 

Ube Womesfcfcness of fsebonfea 129 

head, expectant of the V-shaped journeying flock, 
and the far-off clamour of voices from the South 
crying to him in his own tongue. At last, when 
the snow was about gone from the open fields, one 
evening at the shutting-in of dark, the voices came. 
He was lingering at the edge of the goose pond, 
the rest having settled themselves for the night, 
when he heard the expected sounds. Honk-a-honk, 
honk-a-honk, honka, honka, honk, honk, they came 
up against the light April wind, nearer, nearer, 
nearer. Even his keen eye could not detect them 
against the blackness; but up went his wings, 
and again and again he screamed to them sono- 
rously. In response to his call, their flight swung 
lower, and the confusion of their honking seemed 
as if it were going to descend about him. But the 
wary old gander, their leader, discerned the roofs, 
man's handiwork, and suspected treachery. At his 
sharp signal the flock, rising again, streamed off 
swiftly toward safer feeding-grounds, and left 
Kehonka to call and call unanswered. Up to this 
moment all his restlessness had not led him to think 
of actually deserting the farmstead and the alien 
flock. Though not of them he had felt it necessary 
to be with them. His instinct for other scenes and 
another fellowship had been too little tangible to 

130 Ube frtnfc^ of tbe THfltto 

move him to the snapping of established ties. But 
now, all his desires at once took concrete form. It 
was his, it belonged to himself that strong, free 
flight, that calling through the sky, that voyaging 
northward to secret nesting-places. In that wild 
flock which had for a moment swerved downward 
to his summons, or in some other flock, was his 
mate. It was mating season, and not until now 
had he known it. 

Nature does sometimes, under the pressure of 
great and concentrated desires, make unexpected 
effort to meet unforeseen demands. All winter 
long, though it was not the season for such growth, 
Kehonka's clipped wing-primaries had been striving 
to develop. They had now, contrary to all custom, 
attained to an inch or so of effective flying web. 
Kehonka's heart was near bursting with his desire 
as the voices of the unseen flock died away. He 
spread his wings to their full extent, ran some 
ten paces along the ground, and then, with all his 
energies concentrated to the effort, he rose into the 
air, and flew with swift-beating wings out into the 
dark upon the northward trail. His trouble was 
not the lack of wing surface, but the lack of balance. 
One wing being so much less in spread than the 
other, he felt a fierce force striving to turn him 

tTbc Momesicfeness of Itebonfca 13* 

over at every stroke. It was the struggle to counter- 
act this tendency that wore him out. His first des- 
perate effort carried him half a mile. Then he 
dropped to earth, in a bed of withered salt-grass 
all awash with the full tide of Tantramar. Resting 
amid the salt-grass, he tasted such an exultation 
of freedom that his heart forgot its soreness over 
the flock which had vanished. Presently, however, 
he heard again the sound that so thrilled his every 
vein. Weird, hollow, echoing with memories and 
tidings, it came throbbing up the wind. His own 
strong cry went out at once to meet it ke-honk-a, 
ke-honk-a, ke-honk-a. The voyagers this time were 
flying very low. They came near, nearer, and at 
last, in a sudden silence of voices, but a great flap- 
ping of wings, they settled down in the salt-grass 
all about him. 

The place was well enough for a night's halt a 
shallow, marshy pool which caught the overflow of 
the highest spring tides, and so was not emptied 
by the ebb. After its first splashing descent into the 
water, which glimmered in pale patches among the 
grass stems, every member of the flock sat for some 
moments motionless as statues, watchful for un- 
known menace; and Kehonka, his very soul trem- 
bling with desire achieved, sat motionless among 

132 Ubc Irtnoreo of tbe 

them. Then, there being no sign of peril at hand, 
there was a time of quiet paddling to and fro, 
a scuttling of practised bills among the grass-roots, 
and Kehonka found himself easily accepted as a 
member of the flock. Happiness kept him restless 
and on the move long after the others had their 
bills tucked under their wings. In the earliest gray 
of dawn, when the flock awoke to feed, Kehonka 
fed among them as if he had been with them all 
the way on their flight from the Mexican plains. 
But his feeding was always by the side of a young 
female who had not yet paired. It was interrupted 
by many little courtesies of touching bill and 
bowing head, which were received with plain favour ; 
for Kehonka was a handsome and well marked 
bird. By the time the sky was red along the east 
and strewn with pale, blown feathers of amber 
pink toward the zenith, his swift wooing was next 
door to winning. He had forgotten his captivity 
and clipped wing. He was thinking of a nest in 
the wide emptiness of the North. 

When the signal-cry came, and the flock took 
flight, Kehonka rose with them. But his prelimi- 
nary rush along the water was longer than that 
of the others, and when the flock formed into flying 
order he fell in at the end of the longer leg of the 


Ube fliomesicfcness of "fcebonfca 135 

V, behind the weakest of the young geese. This 
would have been a humiliation to him, had he taken 
thought of it at all; but his attention was all ab- 
sorbed in keeping his balance. When the flock 
found its pace, and the cold sunrise air began to 
whistle past the straight, bullet-like rush of their 
flight, a terror grew upon him. He flew much bet- 
ter than he had flown the night before ; but he soon 
saw that this speed of theirs was beyond him. He 
would not yield, however. He would not lag 
behind. Every force of his body and his brain went 
into that flight, till his eyes blurred and his heart 
seemed on the point of bursting. Then, suddenly, 
with a faint, despairing note, he lurched aside, shot 
downward, and fell with a great splash into the 
channel of the Tantramar. With strong wings, and 
level, unpausing flight, the flock went on to its 
North without him. 

Dazed by the fall, and exhausted by the intensity 
of his effort, Kehonka floated, moveless, for many 
minutes. The flood-tide, however, racing inland, 
was carrying him still northward ; and presently he 
began to swim in the same direction. In his sick 
heart glowed still the vision of the nest in the far- 
off solitudes, and he felt that he would find there, 
waiting for him, the strong-winged mate who had 

is* ttbe Itinoreo of tbe Wilt) 

left him behind. Half an hour later another flock 
passed honking overhead, and he called to them; 
but they were high up, and feeding time was past. 
They gave no sign in answer. He made no attempt 
to fly after them. Hour after hour he swam on 
with the current, working ever north. When the 
tide turned he went ashore, still following the river, 
till its course changed toward the east; whereupon 
he ascended the channel of a small tributary which 
flowed in on the north bank. Here and there he 
snatched quick mouthfuls of sprouting grasses, but 
he was too driven by his desire to pause for food. 
Sometimes he tried his wings again, covering now 
some miles at each flight, till by and by, losing the 
stream because its direction failed him, he found 
himself in a broken upland country, where progress 
was slow and toilsome. Soon after sunset, troubled 
because there was no water near, he again took 
wing, and over dark woods which filled him with 
apprehension he made his longest flight. When 
about spent he caught a small gleaming of water far 
below him, and alighted in a little woodland glade 
wherein a brook had overflowed low banks. 

The noise of his abrupt descent loudly startled 
the wet and dreaming woods. It was a matter of 
interest to all the furry, furtive ears of the forest 

Womesfcfcness of Ifcebonfca 139 

for a half-mile round. But it was in no way 
repeated. For perhaps fifteen minutes Kehonka 
floated, neck erect, head high and watchful, in the 
middle of the pool, with no movement except the 
slight, unseen oaring of his black-webbed feet, 
necessary to keep the current from bearing him into 
the gloom of the woods. This gloom, hedging him 
on every side, troubled him with a vague fear. But 
in the open of the mid-pool, with two or three stars 
peering faintly through the misted sky above him, 
he felt comparatively safe. At last, very far above, 
he heard again that wild calling of his fellows, 
honk-a-honk, honk-a-honk, honka, honka, honk, 
honk, high and dim and ghostly, for these rough 
woodlands had no appeal for the journeying flocks. 
Remote as the voices were, however, Kehonka an- 
swered at once. His keen, sonorous, passionate 
cry rang strangely on the night, three times. The 
flock paid no heed to it whatever, but sped on north- 
ward with unvarying flight and clamour; and as 
the wizard noise passed beyond, Kehonka, too 
weary to take wing, followed eagerly to the north- 
erly shore of the pool, ran up the wet bank, and 
stood straining after it. 

His wings were half spread as he stood there, 
quivering with his passion. In his heart was the 

140 Ube Ifcfnorefc of tbe 

hunger of the quest. In his eyes was the vision 
of nest and mate, where the serviceberry thicket 
grew by the wide sub-arctic waters. The night 
wind blew steadily away from him to the under- 
brush close by, or even in his absorption he would 
have noticed the approach of a menacing, musky 
smell. But every sense was now numb in the pres- 
ence of his great desire. There was no warning 
for him. 

The underbrush rustled, ever so softly. Then 
a small, delicately moving, fine-furred shape, the 
discourager of quests, darted stealthily forth, and 
with a bound that was feathery in its blown light- 
ness, seeming to be uplifted by the wide-plumed tail 
that balanced it, descended on Kehonka's body. 
There was a thin honk, cut short by keen teeth 
meeting with a crunch and a twist in the glossy 
slim blackness of Kehonka's neck. The struggle 
lasted scarcely more than two heart-beats. The wide 
wings pounded twice or thrice upon the ground, 
in fierce convulsion. Then the red fox, with a side- 
wise jerk of his head, flung the heavy, trailing 
carcass into a position for its easy carrying, and 
trotted off with it into the darkness of the woods. 



|N the bushy thicket the doe stood trem- 
bling over the young one to which she 
had given birth in the early part of the 
night. A light wind began to breathe just before 
dawn, and in its languid throbbing the slim twigs 
and half unfolded leaves from time to time rustled 
stiffly. Over the tree-tops, and from the open 
spaces in the wood, could be seen the first pallor of 
approaching day; and one pink thread, a finger 
long, outlined a lonely fragment of the horizon. 
But in the bushy thicket it was dark. The mother 
could not see her little one, but kept feeling it anx- 
iously and lightly with her silken nose. She was 
waiting till it should be strong enough to rise and 

As the pink thread became scarlet and crept 
along a wider arc, and the cold light spread, there 
came from a far-off hillside the trailing echo of 
a howl. It was the cry of a wolf hunting alone. 
It hardly penetrated the depths of the bushy thicket, 


144 tlbe frtnt>re& of tbe TTCUlfc 

but the doe heard it, and faced about to the point 
whence it came, and stamped angrily with slim, 
sharp hoof. Her muzzle was held high, and her 
nostrils expanded tensely, weighing and analysing 
every scent that came on the chill air. But the 
dread cry was not repeated. No smell of danger 
breathed in her retreat. The light stole at last 
through the tangled branches. Then the little 
one struggled to its feet, its spotted sides still 
heaving under the stress of their new expansion; 
and the doe, with lowered head and neck bent far 
around, watched it with great eyes as it pressed 
its groping mouth against her udder and learned to 

Presently the sides of branch and stem and leaf 
facing the dawn took on a hue of pink. A male 
song-sparrow, not yet feeling quite at home after 
his journey from the South, sang hesitatingly from 
the top of a bush. A pair of crows squawked gut- 
turally and confidentially in a tree-top, where they 
contemplated nesting. Everything was wet, but 
it was a tonic and stimulating wetness, like that of 
a vigorous young swimmer climbing joyously out 
of a cool stream. The air had a sharp savour, a 
smell of gummy aromatic buds, and sappy twigs, 
and pungent young leaves. But the body of the 

Savours /Beats MS 

scent, which seemed like the very person of spring, 
was the affluence of the fresh earth, broken and 
turned up to the air by millions of tiny little thrust- 
ing blades. Presently, when the light fell into the 
thicket with a steeper slant, the doe stepped away, 
and left her little one lying, hardly to be discerned, 
on a spotted heap of dead leaves and moss. She 
stole noiselessly out of the thicket. She was going 
to pasture on the sprouting grasses of a neighbour- 
ing wild meadow, and to drink at the amber stream 
that bordered it. She knew that, in her absence, 
the little one's instinct would teach him to keep 
so still that no marauder's eye would be likely to 
detect him. 

Two or three miles away from the thicket, in the 
heart of the same deep-wooded wilderness, stood a 
long, low-roofed log cabin, on the edge of a narrow 
clearing. The yard was strewn with chips, some 
fresh cut and some far gone in decay. A lean 
pig rooted among them, turning up the black 
soil that lay beneath. An axe and black iron 
pot stood on the battered step before the door. 
In the window appeared the face of an old man, 
gazing blankly out upon the harsh-featured scene. 

The room where the old man sat was roughly 
ceiled and walled with brown boards. The sunlight 

146 ttbe ftfn&refc of tbe Wilfc 

streamed in the window, showing the red stains of 
rust on the cracked kitchen stove, and casting an 
oblong figure of brightness on the faded patchwork 
quilt which covered the low bed in the corner. Two 
years earlier John Hackett had been an erect and 
powerful woodsman, strong in the task of carving 
himself a home out of the unyielding wilderness. 
Then his wife had died of a swift consumption. A 
few weeks later he had been struck down with paral- 
ysis, from which he partly recovered to find himself 
grown suddenly senile and a helpless invalid. On 
his son, Silas, fell the double task of caring for 
him and working the scant, half-subjugated farm. 

Streaks and twines of yellowish white were scat- 
tered thickly amid the ragged blackness of the old 
man's hair and beard. The strong, gaunt lines of 
his features consorted strangely with the piteous 
weakness that now trembled in his eyes and on his 
lower lip. He sat in a big home-made easy chair, 
which Silas had constructed for him by sawing a 
quarter-section out of a hogshead. This rude frame 
the lad had lined laboriously with straw and coarse 
sacking, and his father had taken great delight 
in it. 

A soiled quilt of blue, magenta, and white squares 
wrapped the old man's legs, as he sat by the window 

Savours /Beats 147 

waiting for Silas to come in. His withered hands 
picked ceaselessly at the quilt. 

" I wish Si'd come ! I want my breakfast ! " he 
kept repeating, now wistfully, now fretfully. His 
gaze wandered from the window to the stove, from 
the stove to the window, with slow regularity. 
When the pig came rooting into his line of vision, 
it vexed him, and he muttered peevishly to himself. 

" That there hog'll hev the whole place rooted up. 
I wish Si'd come and drive him out of that ! " 

At last Si came. The old man's face smoothed 
itself, and a loving light came into his eyes as the 
lad adjusted the pillow at his head. The doings 
of the hog were forgotten. 

Si bustled about to get breakfast, the old man's 
eyes following every movement. The tea was placed 
on the back of the stove to draw. A plate of cold 
buckwheat cakes was brought out of the cupboard 
and set on the rude table. A cup, with its handle 
broken off, was half filled with molasses, for " sweet- 
enin'," and placed beside the buckwheat cakes. 
Then Si cut some thick slices of salt pork and 
began to fry them. They " sizzled " cheerfully in 
the pan, and to Si, with his vigorous morning appe- 
tite, the odour was rare and fine. But the old man 
was troubled by it. His hands picked faster at 
the quilt. 

Ube Itinoreo of tbe THIlUo 

" Si," said he, in a quavering voice, that rose and 
fell without regard to the force of the words, " I 
know ye can't help it, but my stomach's turned agin 
salt pork ! It's been a-comin' on me this long while, 
that I couldn't eat it no more. An' now it's come. 
Pork, pork, pork, I can't eat it no more, Si ! 
But there, I know ye can't help it. Ye're a good 
boy, a kind son, Si, and ye can't help it ! " 

Si went on turning the slices with an old fork 
till the quavering voice stopped. Then he cried, 
cheerfully : 

" Try an* eat a leetle mite of it, father. This 
'ere tea's fine, an'll sort of wash it down. An' 
while I'm a-working in the back field this morning 
I'll try and think of somethin' to kinder tickle your 
appetite ! " 

The old man shook his head gloomily. 

" I can't eat no more fried pork, Si," said he, 
" not if I die fur it ! I know ye can't help it ! An' 
it don't matter, fur I won't be here much longer 
anyways. It'll be a sight better fur you, Si, when 
I'm gone but I kinder don't like to leave ye here 
all alone. Seems like I kinder keep the house warm 
fur ye till ye come home! I don't like to think of 
ye comin' in an' findin' the house all empty, Si! 
But it's been powerful empty, with jist you an' 

Savours /Beats 149 

me, sence mother died. It useter be powerful good, 
Si, didn't it, comin' home and findin' her a-waitin' 
fur us, an' hot supper ready on the table, an' the 
lamp a-shinin' cheerful? An' what suppers she 
could cook! D'ye mind the pies, an' the stews, an' 
the fried deer's meat? I could eat some of that 
fried deer's meat now, Si. An' I feel like it would 
make me better. It ain't no fault of yours, Si, but 
I can't eat no more salt pork ! " 

Si lifted the half-browned slices of yellow and 
crimson on to a plate, poured the gravy over them, 
and set the plate on the table. Then he dragged 
his father's chair over to the table, helped him to 
tea and buckwheat cakes and molasses, and sat 
down to his own meal. The fried pork disappeared 
swiftly in his strong young jaws, while his father 
nibbled reluctantly at the cold and soggy cakes. 
Si cleared the table, fed the fire, dragged his father 
back to the sunny window, and then took down the 
long gun, with the powder-horn and shot-pouch, 
which hung on pegs behind the door. 

The old man noticed what he was doing. 

" Ain't ye goin' to work in the back field, Silas? " 
he asked, plaintively. 

" No, father," said the lad, " I'm goin' a-gunnin'. 
Ef I don't have some of that fried deer's meat fur 

is ^be frtnt>reo of tbe TWUU> 

your supper to-night, like mother useter fix fur 
ye, my name ain't Silas Hackett! " 

He set a tin of fresh water on the window ledge 
within reach of his father's hand, gave one tender 
touch to the pillow, and went out quickly. The 
old man's eyes strained after him till he disappeared 
in the woods. 

Silas walked with the noiseless speed of the 
trained woodsman. His heart was big with pity for 
his father, and heavy with a sense of approaching 
loss. But instinctively his eyes took note of the 
new life beginning to surge about him in myriad 
and tumultuous activity. It surged, too, in the 
answering current of his strong young blood; and 
from time to time he would forget his heaviness 
utterly for a moment, thrilled through and through 
by a snatch of bird song, or a glimpse of rose-red 
maple buds, or a gleam of ineffable blueness through 
the tree-tops, or a strange, clean-smelling wind that 
made him stop and stretch his lungs to take it in. 
Suddenly he came upon a fresh deer-track. 

The sorcery of spring was forgotten. His heavi- 
ness was forgotten. He was now just the hunter, 
keen upon the trail of the quarry. Bending low, 
silent as a shadow, peering like a panther, he slipped 
between the great trunks, and paused in the fringe 

Savours flDeats 15 

of downy catkined willows that marked the 
meadow's edge. On the other side of the meadow 
he saw the form of a doe, drinking. He heard on 
the wet air the sharp, chiming brawl of the brook, 
fretted by some obstruction. He took a careful 
aim. The doe lifted her head, satisfied, and 
ready to return to her young one in the thicket. 
A shot rang out across the meadow, and she sprang 
into the air, to fall back with her slender muzzle in 
the stream, her forelegs bent beneath her, her hind 
legs twitching convulsively for a moment before 
they stiffened out upon the grass. 

As Silas staggered homeward he was no longer 
the keen hunter. He no longer heard the summons 
of the spring morning. All he thought of was the 
pleasure which would light up the wan and piteous 
face of the old man in the chair by the window 
when the savoury smell of the frying deer's meat 
would fill the dusky air of the cabin. As he crossed 
the chip-strewn yard, he saw his father's face 
watching for him. He dropped his burden at the 
door, and entered, panting and triumphant. 

" I've got it fur ye, father ! " he cried, softly 
touching the tremulous hands with his big brown 

" I'm right glad, Si," quavered the old man, " but 

iltnt>re& of tbe WtR> 

I'm a sight gladder to see ye back ! The hours is 
long when ye're not by me! Oh, but ye do mind 
me of your mother, Si ! " 

Si took the carcass to the shed, dressed it care- 
fully, and then, after cutting several thick slices 
from the haunch, stowed it in the little black hole 
of a cellar, beneath the cabin floor. He put some 
fair potatoes to boil, and proceeded to fry the juicy 
steaks which the old man loved. The fragrance of 
them filled the cabin. The old man's eyes grew 
brighter, and his hands less tremulous. When the 
smoking and sputtering dish was set upon the table, 
Silas again drew up the big chair, and the two made 
a joyous meal. The old man ate as he had not 
eaten for months, and the generous warmth of the 
fresh meat put new life into his withered veins. His 
under lip grew firmer, his voice steadier, his brain 
more clear. With a gladness that brought tears 
into his eyes, Silas marked the change. 

" Father," he cried, " ye look more like yerself 
than I've seen ye these two years past ! " 

And the old man replied, with a ring of returning 
hope in his voice : 

" This 'ere deer's meat's more'n any medicine. 
Ef I git well, ever, seems to me it'll be according to 
what I eat or don't eat, more'n anything else." 


Savours /iDeats 155 

" Whatever ye think'll help ye, that ye shall hev, 
father," declared Silas, " ef I have to crawl on 
hands an' knees all day an' all night fur it ! " 

Meanwhile, in the heart of the bushy thicket, on 
the spotted heap of leaves, lay a little fawn, waiting 
for its mother. It was trembling now with hunger 
and chill. But its instinct kept it silent all day long. 
The afternoon light died out. Twilight brought a 
bitter chill to the depths of the thicket. When night 
came, hunger, cold, and fear at last overcame the 
little one's muteness. From time to time it gave 
a plaintive cry, then waited, and listened for its 
mother's coming. The cry was feeble, but there 
were keen ears in the forest to catch it. There came 
a stealthy crackling in the bushes, and the fawn 
struggled to its feet with a glad expectation. Two 
green eyes, close to the ground, floated near. There 
was a pounce, a scuffle and then the soft, fierce 
whispering sound of a wildcat satisfying itself with 


HOLLOW, booming, ominous cry, a 
great voice of shadowy doom, rang out 
suddenly and startled the dark edges of 
the forest. It sounded across the glimmering pas- 
tures, vibrating the brown-violet dusk, and made 
the lame old woman in the cabin on the other side 
of the clearing shiver with vague fears. 

But not vague was the fear which shook the soul 
of the red squirrel where he crouched, still for once 
in his restless life, in the crotch of a thick spruce- 
top. Not vague was the fear of the brooding grouse 
in the far-off withe-wood thicket, though the sound 
came to her but dimly and she knew that the menace 
of it was not, at the moment, for her. And least 
vague of all was the terror of the usually unterrified 
weasel, from whose cruel little eyes the red flame 
of the blood-lust faded suddenly, as the glow dies 
out of a coal; for the dread voice sounded very 
close to him, and it required all his nerve to hold 


160 trbe *Rfnore& of tbe 7HHU& 

himself rigidly motionless and to refrain from the 
start which would have betrayed him to his death. 

" Whoo-hoo-oo-h' oo-oo !" boomed the call again, 
seeming to come from the tree-tops, the thickets, 
the sky, and the earth, all at once, so that creatures 
many hundred yards apart trembled simultaneously, 
deeming that the clutch of fate was already at their 
necks. But to the Boy, as he let down the pasture 
bars with a clatter and turned the new-milked cows 
in among the twilight-coloured hillocks, the sound 
brought no terror. He smiled as he said to himself : 
" There's Hushwing again at his hunting. I must 
give him a taste of what it feels like to be hunted." 
Then he strolled across the pasture, between the 
black stumps, the blueberry patches, the tangles of 
wild raspberry; pushed softly through the fringe 
of wild cherry and young birch saplings, and crept, 
soundless as a snake, under the branches of a low- 
growing hemlock. Peering out from this covert he 
could see, rising solitary at the back of an open 
glade, the pale and naked trunk of a pine-tree, which 
the lightning had shattered. 

The Boy's eyes were keen as a fish-hawk's, and 
he kept them fixed upon the top of the pine trunk. 
Presently it seemed as if the spirit of the dusk took 
shadowy form for an instant. There was a sound- 

TTbe Bos anfc Husbwing 161 

less sweeping of wings down the glade, and the next 
moment the pine trunk looked about two feet taller 
in the Boy's eyes. The great horned owl " Hush- 
wing," the Boy had christened him, for the ghostly 
silence of his flight had returned to his favourite 
post of observation, whereon he stood so erect and 
motionless that he seemed a portion of the pine 
trunk itself. 

The Boy lay still as a watching lynx, being minded 
to spy on Hushwing at his hunting. A moment 
more, and then came again that hollow summons : 
Whoo-hoo-hoo-who'o-oo; and the great owl turned 
his head to listen as the echo floated through the 

The Boy heard, a few paces distant from him, 
the snap of a twig where a startled hare stirred 
clumsily. The sound was faint; indeed so faint 
that he was hardly sure whether he heard or imag- 
ined it; but to the wonderfully wide and sensitive 
drum of the owl's ear it sounded sharply away down 
at the foot of the glade. Ere the Boy could draw 
a second breath he saw great wings hovering at 
the edge of the thicket close at hand. He saw big, 
clutching talons outstretched from thick-feathered 
legs, while round eyes, fiercely gleaming, flamed 
upon his in passing as they searched the bush. Once 

162 tlbe "fctnoreo of tbe TKHUfc 

the great wings backed off, foiled by some obstruc- 
tion which the Boy could not see. Then they 
pounced with incredible speed. There was a flap- 
ping and a scuffle, followed by a loud squeak; and 
Hushwing winnowed off down the glade bearing 
the limp form of the hare in his talons. He did 
not stop at the pine trunk, but passed on toward the 
deeper woods. 

" He's got a mate and a nest 'way back in the 
cedar swamp, likely," said the Boy, as he got up, 
stretched his cramped limbs, and turned his face 
homeward. As he went, he schemed with subtle 
woodcraft for the capture of the wary old bird. 
He felt impelled to try his skill against the ma- 
rauder's inherited cunning and suspicion; and he 
knew that, if he should succeed, there would remain 
Hushwing's yet fiercer and stronger mate to care 
for the little owlets in the nest. 

When Hushwing had deposited his prey beside 
the nest, in readiness for the next meal of his ever- 
hungry nestlings, he sailed off again for a hunt on 
his own account. Now it chanced that a rare visitor, 
a wanderer from the cliffy hills which lay many 
miles back of Hushwing's cedar swamp, had come 
down that day to see if there might not be a sheep 
or a calf to be picked up on the outskirts of the 

ZCbe JSos anfc Wusbwtna 163 

settlements. It was years since a panther had been 
seen in that neighbourhood it was years, indeed, 
since that particular panther had strayed from his 
high fastnesses, where game was plentiful and none 
dared poach on his preserves. But just now a 
camp of hunters on his range had troubled him 
seriously and scattered his game. Gnawing his 
heart with rage and fear, he had succeeded so far 
in evading their noisy search, and had finally come 
to seek vengeance by taking tribute of their flocks. 
He had traversed the cedar swamp, and emerging 
upon the wooded uplands he had come across a cow- 
path leading down to the trampled brink of a pond. 

" Here," he thought to himself, " will the cattle 
come to drink, and I will kill me a yearling heifer." 
On the massive horizontal limb of a willow which 
overhung the trodden mire of the margin he 
stretched himself to await the coming of the quarry. 
A thick-leaved beech bough, thrusting in among 
the willow branches, effectually concealed him. 
Only from above was he at all visible, his furry 
ears and the crown of his head just showing over 
the leafage. 

The aerial path of Hushwing, from his nest in 
the swamp to his watch-tower on the clearing's 
edge, led him past the pool and the crouching 

164 ZEbe > Rin&re& of tbe TKI1U& 

panther. He had never seen a panther, and he had 
nothing in his brain-furnishing to fit so formidable 
a beast. On chance, thinking perhaps to strike a 
mink at his fishing on the pool's brink, he sounded 
his Whoo-hoo-hoo-who'o-oo! as he came near. The 
panther turned his head at the sound, rustling the 
leaves, over which appeared his furry ear-tips. The 
next instant, to his rage and astonishment, he re- 
ceived a smart blow on the top of his head, and 
sharp claws tore the tender skin about his ears. 
With a startled snarl he turned and struck upward 
with his armed paw, a lightning stroke, at the un- 
seen assailant. 

But he struck the empty air. Already was Hush- 
wing far on his way, a gliding ghost. He was puz- 
zled over the strange animal which he had struck; 
but while his wits were yet wondering, those mira- 
cles of sensitiveness, those living telephone films 
which served him for ears, caught the scratching of 
light claws on the dry bark of a hemlock some ten 
paces aside from his line of flight. Thought itself 
could hardly be more silent and swift than was 
his turning. The next moment his noiseless wings 
overhung a red squirrel, where it lay flattened to 
the bark in the crotch of the hemlock. Some dream 
of the hunt or the flight had awakened the little 



animal to an unseasonable activity and betrayed it 
to its doom. There was a shrill squeal as those 
knife-like talons met in the small, furry body; then 
Hushwing carried off his supper to be eaten com- 
fortably upon his watch-tower. 

Meanwhile the Boy was planning the capture of 
the wise old owl. He might have shot the bird 
easily, but wanton slaughter was not his object, and 
he was no partisan as far as the wild creatures were 
concerned. All the furtive folk, fur and feather 
^like, were interesting to him, even dear to him 
in varying degrees. He had no grudge against 
Hushwing for his slaughter of the harmless hare 
and grouse, for did not the big marauder show equal 
zest in the pursuit of mink and weasel, snake and 
rat? Even toward that embodied death, the malig- 
nant weasel, indeed, the Boy had no antagonism, 
making allowance as he did for the inherited blood- 
lust which drove the murderous little animal to 
defy all the laws of the wild kindred and kill, kill, 
kill, for the sheer delight of killing. The Boy's 
purpose now in planning the capture of Hushwing 
was, first of all, to test his own woodcraft; and, 
second, to get the bird under his close observation. 
He had a theory that the big horned owl might 
be tamed so as to become an interesting and highly 

168 Ube ltin&re& ot tbe 

instructive pet. In any case, he was sure that Hush- 
wing in captivity might be made to contribute 
much to his knowledge, and knowledge, first- 
hand knowledge, of all the furtive kindred of the 
wild, knowledge such as the text-books on natural 
history which his father's library contained could 
not give him, was what he continually craved. 

On the following afternoon the Boy went early 
to the neighbourhood of Hushwing's watch-tower. 
At the edge of a thicket, half concealed, but open 
toward the dead pine trunk, was a straggling colony 
of low blueberry bushes. Where the blueberry 
bushes rose some eight or ten inches above the top 
of a decaying birch stump he fixed a snare of rabbit 
wire. To the noose he gave a diameter of about 
a foot, supporting it horizontally in the tops of the 
bushes just over the stump. The cord from the 
noose he carried to his hiding-place of the previous 
evening, under the thick-growing hemlock. Then 
he went home, did up some chores upon which he 
depended for his pocket-money, and arranged with 
the hired man to relieve him for that evening of 
his duty of driving the cows back to pasture after 
the milking. Just before the afternoon began to 
turn from brown amber to rose and lilac he went 
back to the glade of the pine trunk. This time he 

TTbe JSos a^ Knsbwing 169 

took with him the body of one of the big gray rats 
which infested his father's grain-bins. The rat 
he fixed securely upon the top of the stump among 
the blueberry bushes, exactly under the centre of 
the snare. Then he broke off the tops of a berry 
bush, tied the stubs together loosely, drew them 
over, ran the string once around the stump, and 
carried the end of the string back to his hiding- 
place beside the cord of the snare. Pulling the 
string gently, he smiled with satisfaction to hear 
the broken twigs scratch seductively on the stump, 
like the claws of a small animal. Then he lay down, 
both cords in his hand, and composed himself to 
a season of patient waiting. 

He had not long to wait, however; for Hush- 
wing was early at his hunting that night. The Boy 
turned away his scrutiny for just one moment, as 
it seemed to him; but when he looked again there 
was Hushwing at his post, erect, apparently part 
of the pine trunk. Then Whoo-hoo-hoo-who'o- 
oo I sounded his hollow challenge, though the 
sunset colour was not yet fading in the west. In- 
stantly the Boy pulled his string; and from the 
stump among the blueberry bushes came a gentle 
scratching, as of claws. Hushwing heard it. 
Lightly, as if blown on a swift wind, he was at 

i7 Ube Utinoreo of tbe TOlo 

the spot. He struck. His great talons transfixed 
the rat. His wings beat heavily as he strove to 
lift it, to bear it off to his nestlings. But what 
a heavy beast it was, to be sure ! The next moment 
the noose of rabbit wire closed inexorably upon 
his legs. He loosed his grip upon the rat and sprang 
into the air, bewildered and terrified. But his wings 
would not bear him the way he wished to go. In- 
stead, a strange, irresistible force was drawing him, 
for all the windy beating of his pinions, straight to 
an unseen doom in the heart of a dense-growing 

A moment more and he understood his discomfi- 
ture and the completeness of it. The Boy stood 
forth from his hiding-place, grinning; and Hush- 
wing knew that his fate was wholly in the hands 
of this master being, whom no wild thing dared 
to hunt. Courageous to the last, he hissed fiercely 
and snapped his sharp beak in defiance; but the 
Boy drew him down, muffled wing, beak, and talons 
in his heavy homespun jacket, bundled him under 
his arm, and carried him home in triumph. 

" You'll find the rats in our oat-bins," said he, 
" fatter than any weasel in the wood, my Hush- 

The oat-bins were in a roomy loft at one end 


Ube JSos ant> Kusbwino 173 

of the wood-shed. The loft was lighted by a large 
square window in the gable, arranged to swing 
back on hinges like a door, for convenience in pass- 
ing the bags of grain in and out. Besides three 
large oat-bins, it contained a bin for barley, one 
for buckwheat, and one for bran. The loft was 
also used as a general storehouse for all sorts of 
stuff that would not keep well in a damp cellar; 
and it was a very paradise for rats. From the 
wood-shed below admittance to the loft was gained 
by a flight of open board stairs and a spacious trap- 

Mounting these stairs and lifting the trap-door, 
the boy carefully undid the wire noose from Hush- 
wing's feathered legs, avoiding the keen talons 
which promptly clutched at his fingers. Then he 
unrolled the coat, and the big bird, flapping his 
wings eagerly, soared straight for the bright square 
of the window. But the sash was strong; and 
the glass was a marvel which he had never before 
encountered. In a few moments he gave up the 
effort, floated back to the duskiest corner of the loft, 
and settled himself, much disconcerted, on the 
back of an old haircloth sofa which had lately been 
banished from the sitting-room. Here he sat im- 
movable, only hissing and snapping his formidable 

174 Ubc "RinDret) of tbe TWIU& 

beak when the Boy approached him. His heart 
swelled with indignation and despair; and, real- 
ising the futility of flight, he stood at bay. As the 
Boy moved around him he kept turning his great 
horned head as if it were on a pivot, without 
changing the position of his body; and his round, 
golden eyes, with their piercing black pupils, met 
those of his captor with an unflinching directness 
beyond the nerve of any four-footed beast, however 
mighty, to maintain. The daunting mastery of 
the human gaze, which could prevail over the gaze 
of the panther or the wolf, was lost upon the tame- 
less spirit of Hushwing. Noting his courage, the 
Boy smiled approval and left him alone to recover 
his equanimity. 

The Boy, as days went by, made no progress 
whatever in his acquaintance with his captive, who 
steadfastly met all his advances with defiance of 
hissings and snapping beak. But by opening the 
bins and sitting motionless for an hour or two in 
the twilight the Boy was able to make pretty careful 
study of Hushwing's method of hunting. The 
owl would sit a long time unstirring, the gleam 
of his eyes never wavering. Then suddenly he 
would send forth his terrifying cry, and listen. 
Sometimes there would be no result. At other 

Bos ano Kusbwing 175 

times the cry would come just as some big rat, 
grown over-confident, was venturing softly across 
the floor or down into the toothsome grain. Start- 
led out of all common sense by that voice of doom at 
his ear, he would make a desperate rush for cover. 
There would be a scrambling on the floor or a 
scurrying in the bin. Then the great, dim wings 
would hover above the sound. There would be a 
squeak, a brief scuffle; and Hushwing would float 
back downily to devour his prey on his chosen perch, 
the back of the old haircloth sofa. 

For a fortnight the Boy watched him assiduously, 
spending almost every evening in the loft. At 
length came an evening when not a rat would stir 
abroad, and Hushwing's hunting-calls were hooted 
in vain. After two hours of vain watching the 
Boy's patience gave out, and he went off to bed, 
promising his prisoner a good breakfast in the 
morning to compensate him for the selfish prudence 
of the rats. That same night, while every one in 
the house slept soundly, it chanced that a thieving 
squatter from the other end of the settlement came 
along with a bag, having designs upon the well- 
filled oat-bins. 

The squatter knew where there was a short and 
handy ladder leaning against the tool-house. He 

176 ttbe ltfnt>re& of tbe 

had always been careful to replace it. He also 
knew how to lift, with his knife, the iron hook 
which fastened but did not secure the gable 
window on the inside. To-night he went very 
stealthily, because, though it was dark, there was 
no wind to cover the sound of his movements. 
Stealthily he brought the ladder and raised it 
against the gable of the loft. Noiselessly he 
mounted, carrying his bag, till his bushy, hatless 
head was just on a level with the window-sill. 
Without a sound, as he imagined, his knife-edge 
raised the hook but there was a sound, the ghost 
of a sound, and the marvellous ear of Hushwing 
heard it. As the window swung back the thief's 
bushy crown appeared just over the sill. " Whoo- 
h'oo-oo ! " shouted Hushwing, angry and hungry, 
swooping at the seductive mark. He struck it fair 
and hard, his claws gashing the scalp, his wings 
dealing an amazing buffet. 

Appalled by the cry and the stroke, the sharp 
clutch, the great smother of wing, the rascal 
screamed with terror, lost his hold, and fell to 
the ground. Nothing was further from his imagi- 
nation than that his assailant should be a mere owl. 
It was rather some kind of a grossly inconsistent 
hobgoblin that he thought of, sent to punish him for 

JSos anfc Hiusbwing 177 

the theft of his neighbour's grain. Leaving the 
ladder where it fell, and the empty bag beside it, 
he ran wildly from the haunted spot, and never 
stopped till he found himself safe inside his shanty 
door. As for Hushwing, he did not wait to investi- 
gate this second mistake of his, but made all haste 
back to his nest in the swamp. 

The frightened outcry of the thief awoke the 
sleepers in the house, and presently the Boy and 
his father came with a lantern to find out what 
was the matter. The fallen ladder, the empty bag, 
the open window of the loft, told their own story. 
When the Boy saw that Hushwing was gone, his 
face fell with disappointment. He had grown very 
fond of his big, irreconcilable, dauntless captive. 

" We owe Master Hushwing a right good turn 
this night," said the Boy's father, laughing. " My 
grain's going to last longer after this, I'm thinking." 

" Yes," sighed the Boy, " Hushwing has earned 
his freedom. I suppose I mustn't bother him any 
more with snares and things." 

Meanwhile, the great horned owl was sitting erect 
on the edge of his nest in the swamp, one talon 
transfixing the torn carcass of a mink, while his 
shining eyes, round like little suns, shone happily 
upon the big-headed, ragged-feathered, hungry 
brood of owlets at his feet. 

H treason of mature 

i HE full moon of October, deep orange in 
a clear, deep sky, hung large and some- 
what distorted just over the wooded hills 
that rimmed the lake. Through the ancient forest, 
a mixed growth of cedar, water-ash, black poplar, 
and maple, with here and there a group of hem- 
locks on a knoll, the light drained down confusedly, 
a bewildering chaos of bright patches, lines, and 
reticulations amid breadths of blackness. On the 
half-overshadowed cove, which here jutted in from 
the lake, the mingling of light and darkness 
wrought an even more elusive mystery than in the 
wood. For the calm levels just breathed, as it were, 
with a fading remembrance of the wind which had 
blown till sundown over the open lake. The pulse 
of this breathing whimsically shifted the reflections, 
and caused the pallid water-lily leaves to uplift and 
appeal like the glimmering hands of ghosts. The 
stillness was perfect, save for a ceaseless, faintly 
rhythmic h-r-r-r-r-r-ing, so light that only the most 


Ifctufcrefc ot tbe 

finely attentive ear, concentrated to the effort, might 
distinguish it. This was the eternal breathing of 
the ancient wood. In such a silence there was noth- 
ing to hint of the thronging, furtive life on every 
side, playing under the moonlit glamour its uneven 
game with death. If a twig snapped in the dis- 
tance, if a sudden rustle somewhere stirred the moss 
- it might mean love, it might mean the inevi- 
table tragedy. 

Under a tall water-ash some rods back from 
the shore of the cove, there was a sharp, clacking 
sound, and a movement which caused a huge blur 
of lights and shadows to differentiate itself all 
at once into the form of a gigantic bull-moose. 
The animal had been resting quite motionless till 
the tickling of some insect at the back of his ear 
disturbed him. Lowering his head, he lifted a 
hind leg and scratched the place with sharp strokes 
of his sprawling, deeply cloven hoof; and the two 
loose sections of the hoof clacked together between 
each stroke like castanets. Then he moved a step 
forward, till his head and fore-shoulders came out 
into the full illumination of a little lane of moon- 
light pouring in betweeen the tree-tops. 

He was a prince of his kind, as he stood there 
with long, hooked, semi-prehensile muzzle thrust 

H treason of IRature 183 

forward, his nostrils dilating to savour the light airs 
which drifted almost imperceptibly through the 
forest. His head, in this attitude, an attitude of 
considering watchfulness, was a little lower than 
the thin-maned ridge of his shoulders, over which 
lay back the vast palmated adornment of his antlers. 
These were like two curiously outlined, hollowed 
leaves, serrated with some forty prongs; and their 
tips, at the point of widest expansion, were little 
less than six feet apart. His eyes, though small 
for the rough-hewn bulk of his head, were keen, and 
ardent with passion and high courage. His ears, 
large and coarse for one of the deer tribe to possess, 
were set very low on his skull to such a degree, 
indeed, as to give somehow a daunting touch of 
the monstrous to his massive dignity. His neck 
was short and immensely powerful, to support the 
gigantic head and antlers. From his throat hung a 
strange, ragged, long-haired tuft, called by woods- 
men the "bell." His chest was of great depth, telling 
of exhaustless lung power; and his long forelegs 
upbore his mighty fore-shoulders so that their gaunt 
ridge was nearly seven feet from the ground. From 
this height his short back fell away on a slope to 
hindquarters disproportionately scant, so that had 
his appearance been altogether less imposing and 

184 Ube Irtnorefc of tbe 

formidable, he might have looked grotesque from 
some points of view. In the moonlight, of course, 
his colour was just a cold gray; but in the daytime 
it would have shown a rusty brown, paling and 
yellowing slightly on the under parts and inside 
the legs. 

Having sniffed the air for several minutes with- 
out discerning anything to interest him, the great 
bull bethought him of his evening meal. With 
a sudden blowing out of his breath, he heaved his 
bulk about and made for the waterside, crashing 
down the bushes and making, in sheer wantonness, 
a noise that seemed out of keeping with the time 
and place. Several times he paused to thrash 
amid the undergrowth with his antlers. Reaching 
the water, he plunged in, thigh-deep, with great 
splashings, and sent the startled waves chasing each 
other in bright curves to the farther shore. There 
he stood and began pulling recklessly at the leaves 
and shoots of the water-lilies. He was hungry, 
indeed, yet his mind was little engrossed with his 

As a rule, the moose, for all his bulk and seeming 
clumsiness, moves through the forest as soundlessly 
as a weasel. He plants his wide hoofs like thistle- 
down, insinuates his spread of antlers through the 

H treason of mature 185 

tangle like a snake, and befools his enemies with 
the nicest craft of the wilderness. 

But this was the rutting season. The great bull 
was looking for his mate. He had a wild sus- 
picion that the rest of the world was conspiring to 
keep him from her, and therefore he felt a fierce 
indignation against the rest of the world. He was 
ready to imagine a rival behind every bush. He 
wanted to find these rivals and fight them to the 
death. His blood was in an insurrection of mad- 
ness, and suspense, and sweetness, and desire. He 
cared no more for craft, for concealment. He 
wanted all the forest to know just where he was 
that his mate might come to be loved, that his 
rivals might come to be ground beneath his antlers 
and his hoofs. Therefore he went wildly, making 
all the noise he could; while the rest of the forest 
folk, unseen and withdrawn, looked on with dis- 
approval and with expectation of the worst. 

As he stood in the cool water, pulling and munch- 
ing the lilies, there came a sound that stiffened him 
to instant movelessness. Up went his head, the 
streams trickling from it silverly; and he listened 
with every nerve of his body. It was a deeply 
sonorous, booming call, with a harsh catch in it, 
but softened to music by the distance. It came 

i86 ttbe nmfcrefc of tbe 

from some miles down the opposite shore of the 
lake. To the great bull's ears it was the sweetest 
music he could dream of the only music, in fact, 
that interested him. It was the voice of his mate, 
calling him to the trysting-place. 

He gave answer at once to the summons, con- 
tracting his flanks violently as he propelled the 
sound from his deep lungs. To one listening far 
down the lake the call would have sounded beauti- 
ful in its way, though lugubrious a wild, vast, 
incomprehensible voice, appropriate to the solitude. 
But to a near-by listener it must have sounded both 
monstrous and absurd like nothing else so much 
as the effort of a young farmyard bull to mimic 
the braying of an ass. Nevertheless, to one who 
could hear aright, it was a noble and splendid call, 
vital with all sincerity of response and love and 
elemental passion. 

Having sent forth his reply, he waited for no 
more. He was consumed with fierce anxiety lest 
some rival should also hear and answer the invi- 
tation. Dashing forward into the deep water, he 
swam at great speed straight across the cove, leav- 
ing a wide wake behind him. The summons came 
again, but he could not reply while he was swim- 
ming. As soon as he reached land he answered, and 


B treason of mature 189 

then started in mad haste down the shore, taking 
advantage of the open beach where there was any, 
but for the most part hidden in the trees, where 
his progress was loudly marked by the crashing 
and trampling of his impatience. 

All the furtive kindred, great as well as small, 
bold as well as timorous, gave him wide berth. A 
huge black bear, pleasantly engaged in ripping 
open an ant stump right in his path, stepped aside 
into the gloom with a supercilious deferring. 
Farther down the lake a panther lay out along a 
maple limb, and watched the ecstatic moose rush 
by beneath. He dug his claws deeper into the 
bark, and bared his fangs thirstily; but he had no 
wish to attempt the perilous enterprise of stopping 
the moose on his love errand. From time to time, 
from that same enchanted spot down the lake, came 
the summons, growing reassuringly nearer; and 
from time to time the journeying bull would pause 
in his stride to give answer. Little flecks of foam 
blew from his nostrils, and his flanks were heaving, 
but his heart was joyous, and his eyes bright with 

Meanwhile, what was it that awaited him, in 
that enchanted spot by the waterside under the full 
moon, on which the eyes of his eager imagination 

19 ftbe Itinorefc of tbc TKHilt> 

were fixed so passionately as he crashed his wild 
way through the night? There was the little open 
of firm gravelly beach, such as all his tribe affected 
as their favoured place of trysting. But no brown 
young cow cast her shadow on the white gravel, 
standing with forefeet wide apart and neck out- 
stretched to utter her desirous call. The beach lay 
bright and empty. Just back of it stood a spreading 
maple, its trunk veiled in a thicket of viburnum 
and withe-wood. Back of this again a breadth of 
lighted open, carrying no growth but low kalmia 
scrub. It was a highly satisfactory spot for the 
hunter who follows his sport in the calling season, 
There was no brown young cow anywhere within 
hearing; but in the covert of the viburnum, under 
the densest shadow of the maple, crouched two 
hunters, their eyes peering through the leafage with 
the keen glitter of those of a beast of prey in 
ambush. One of these hunters was a mere boy, clad 
in blue-gray homespuns, lank and sprawling of 
limb, the whitish down just beginning to acquire 
texture and definiteness on his ruddy but hawk- 
like face. He was on his first moose-hunt, eager 
for a trophy, and ambitious to learn moose-calling. 
The other was a raw-boned and grizzled woodsman, 
still-eyed, swarthy-faced, and affecting the Indian 

H Ureason ot IRature 193 

fashion of a buckskin jacket. He was a hunter 
whose fame went wide in the settlement. He 
could master and slay the cunning kindred of the 
wild by a craft finer than their own. He knew 
all their weaknesses, and played upon them to their 
destruction as he would. In one hairy hand he 
held a long, trumpet-like roll of birch-bark. This 
he would set to his lips at intervals, and utter 
through it his deadly perfect mimicry of the call 
of the cow-moose in rutting season. Each time 
he did so, there came straightway in response the 
ever-nearing bellow of the great bull hurrying 
exultantly to the tryst. Each time he did so, too, 
the boy crouching beside him turned upon him 
a look of marvelling awe, the look of the rapt 
neophyte. This tribute the old woodsman took 
as his bare due, and paid it no attention whatever. 

While yet the approaching bull was apparently 
so far off that even eyes so keen as his had no 
chance of discovering the ambush, the younger 
hunter, unused to so long a stillness, got up to 
stretch his cramped legs. As he stood forth into 
the moonlight, a loon far out in the silver sheen 
of the lake descried him, and at once broke into a 
peal of his startling and demoniacal laughter. 

" Git down ! " ordered the old woodsman, curtly. 

^4 Ube IRfufcrefc of tbe 

"That bird tells all it sees!" And immediately 
setting the birchen trumpet to his lips, he sounded 
the most seductive call he knew. It was answered 
promptly, and this time from so near at hand that 
the nerves of both hunters were strung to instant 
tension. They both effaced themselves to a still- 
ness and invisibility not excelled by that of the 
most secret of the furtive folk. In this stillness 
the boy, who was himself, by nature and affinity, 
of the woodland kin, caught for the first time that 
subtle, rhythmic hr-r-r-r-r-ing of the forest pulse; 
but he took it for merely the rushing of the blood 
in his too attentive ears. 

Presently this sound was forgotten. He heard 
a great portentous crashing in the underbrush. 
Nearer, nearer it came; and both men drew them- 
selves together, as if to meet a shock. Their 
eyes met for one instant, and the look spoke aston- 
ished realisation of the giant approaching bulk. 
Then the old hunter called once more. The an- 
swer, resonant and vast, but almost shrill with the 
ecstasy of passion, blared forth from a dense fir 
thicket immediately beyond the moonlit open. The 
mighty crashing came up, as it seemed, to the 
very edge of the glade, and there stopped abruptly. 
No towering flight of antlers emerged into the 

H treason of nature 195 

The boy's rifle for it was his shot was at 
his shoulder; but he lowered it, and anxiously his 
eyes sought the face of his companion. The latter, 
with lips that made no sound, shaped the words, 
" He suspects something." Then, once more lift- 
ing the treacherous tube of birch-bark to his mouth, 
he murmured through it a rough but strangely 
tender note. It was not utterly unlike that with 
which a cow sometimes speaks to her calf just after 
giving birth to it, but more nasal and vibrant; 
and it was full of caressing expectancy, and desire, 
and question, and half-reproach. All the yearning 
of all the mating ardour that has triumphed over 
insatiable death, and kept the wilderness peopled 
from the first, was in that deceitful voice. As 
he ceased the call he raised himself stealthily behind 
the thick trunk of the maple, lifted a wooden 
bucket of water to the height of his shoulder, and 
poured out a stream, which fell with noisy splashing 
on the gravel. 

The eager moose could not resist the appeal. 
His vague suspicions fled. He burst forth into the 
open, his eyes full and bright, his giant head 
proudly uplifted. 

The boy's large-calibre rifle spoke at that instant, 
with a bitter, clapping report, and a shoot of red 

196 TCbe fttnfcreo of tbe 

flame through the viburnum screen. The tall 
moose neither saw nor heard it. The leaden death 
had crashed through his brain even before his 
quick sense had time to note the menace. Swerving 
a little at the shock, the huge body sank forward 
upon the knees and muzzle, then rolled over upon 
its side. There he lay unstirring, betrayed by 
nature in the hour of his anticipation. 

With a sudden outburst of voices, the two 
hunters sprang up, broke from their ambush, and 
ran to view the prize. They were no longer of the 
secretive kindred of the wilderness, but pleased 
children. The old woodsman eyed shrewdly the 
inimitable spread of the prostrate antlers. As for 
the boy, he stared at his victim, breathless, his eyes 
a-glitter with the fierce elemental pride of the hunter 

Haunter of tbe pine (Bloom 

OR a moment the Boy felt afraid 
afraid in his own woods. He felt that 
he was being followed, that there were 
hostile eyes burning into the back of his jacket. 
The sensation was novel to him, as well as unpleas- 
ant, and he resented it. He knew it -was all non- 
sense. There was nothing in these woods bigger 
than a weasel, he was sure of that. Angry at him- 
self, he would not look round, but swung along care- 
lessly through the thicket, being in haste because 
it was already late and the cows should have been 
home and milked before sundown. Suddenly, 
however, he remembered that it was going flat 
against all woodcraft to disregard a warning. And 
was he not, indeed, deliberately seeking to culti- 
vate and sharpen his instincts, in the effort to get 
closer to the wild woods folk and know them in their 
furtive lives? Moreover, he was certainly getting 
more and more afraid! He stopped, and peered 

into the pine glooms which surrounded him. 


200 Ube IKtnfcret) ot tbe 

Standing motionless as a stump, and breathing 
with perfect soundlessness, he strained his ears to 
help his eyes in their questioning of this obscure 
menace. He could see nothing. He could hear 
nothing. Yet he knew his eyes and ears were cun- 
ning to pierce all the wilderness disguises. But 
stay was that a deeper shadow, merely, far 
among the pine trunks ? And did it move ? He 
stole forward; but even as he did so, whatever of 
unusual he saw or fancied in the object upon which 
his eyes were fixed, melted away. It became but 
a shadow among other shadows, and motionless as 
they all motionless in the calm of the tranquil 
sunset. He ran forward now, impatient to satisfy 
himself beyond suspicion. Yes of course it 
was just this gray spruce stump! He turned away, 
a little puzzled and annoyed in spite of himself. 
Thrashing noisily hither and thither through the 
underbrush, quite contrary to his wonted quie- 
tude while in the domains of the wood folk, and 
calling loudly in his clear young voice, " Co-petty ! 
Co-petty ! Co-petty ! Co-o-o-petty ! " over and over, 
he at length found the wilful young cow which had 
been eluding him. Then he drove the herd slowly 
homeward, with mellow tink-a-tonk, tank-tonk of 
the cow-bells, to the farmyard and the milking. 

Haunter ot tbe pine (Bloom 201 

Several evenings later, when his search for the 
wilful young cow chanced to lead him again through 
the corner of this second growth pine wood, the 
Boy had a repetition of the disturbing experience. 
This time his response was instant and aggressive. 
As soon as he felt that sensation of unfriendly eyes 
pursuing him, he turned, swept the shadows with 
his piercing scrutiny, plunged into the thickets with 
a rush, then stopped short as if frozen, almost hold- 
ing his breath in the tensity of his stillness. By this 
procedure he hoped to catch the unknown haunter 
of the glooms under the disadvantage of motion. 
But again he was baffled. Neither eye nor ear re- 
vealed him anything. He went home troubled and 

Some evenings afterward the same thing hap- 
pened at another corner of the pasture; and again 
one morning when he was fishing in the brook a 
mile back into the woods, where it ran through a 
tangled growth of birch and fir. He began to feel 
that he was either the object of a malicious scrutiny, 
or that he was going back to those baby days when 
he used to be afraid of the dark. Being just at 
the age of ripe boyhood when childishness in him- 
self would seem least endurable, the latter supposi- 
tion was not to be considered. He therefore set 

aoa Ube lUnoreo of tbe 

himself to investigate the mystery, and to pit his 
woodcraft against the evasiveness of this troubler 
of his peace. 

The Boy's confidence in his woodcraft was well 
founded. His natural aptitude for the study of 
the wild kindred had been cultivated to the utmost 
of his opportunity, in all the time that could be 
stolen from his lesson-hours and from his unexacting 
duties about his father's place. Impatient and 
boyish in other matters, he had trained himself to 
the patience of an Indian in regard to all matters 
appertaining to the wood folk. He had a pet theory 
that the human animal was more competent, as a 
mere animal, than it gets the credit of being; and 
it was his particular pride to outdo the wild crea- 
tures at their own games. He could hide, unstirring 
as a hidden grouse. He could run down a deer by 
sheer endurance only to spare it at the last and 
let it go, observed and mastered, but unhurt. 
And he could see, as few indeed among the wild 
things could. This was his peculiar triumph. His 
eyes could discriminate where theirs could not. 
Perfect movelessness was apt to deceive the keenest 
of them; but his sight was not to be so foiled. He 
could differentiate gradually the shape of the 
brown hare crouching motionless on its brown 


Ubc Haunter of tbe flMne Oloom 905 

form ; and separate the yellow weasel from the tuft 
of yellow weeds; and distinguish the slumbering 
night-hawk from the knot on the hemlock limb. 
He could hear, too, as well as most of the wild kin- 
dred, and better, indeed, than some; but in this 
he had to acknowledge himself hopelessly out- 
classed by not a few. He knew that the wood- 
mouse and the hare, for instance, would simply 
make a mock of him in any test of ears ; and as for 
the owl well, that gifted hearer of infinitesimal 
sounds would be justified in calling him stone-deaf. 
The Boy was a good shot, but very seldom was 
it that he cared to display his skill in that direction. 
It was his ambition to " name all the birds without 
a gun." He would know the wild folk living, not 
dead. From the feebler of the wild folk he wanted 
trust, not fear; and he himself had no fear, on 
the other hand, of the undisputed Master of the 
Woods, the big black bear. His faith, justified by 
experience, was that the bear had sense, knew how 
to mind his own business, and was ready to let 
other people mind theirs. He knew the bear well, 
from patient, secret observation when the big beast 
little imagined himself observed. From the neigh- 
bourhood of a bull-moose in rutting season he 
would have taken pains to absent himself; and 

206 Ube Iktnoreo of tbe WtU> 

if he had ever come across any trace of a panther 
in those regions, he would have studied that un- 
certain beast with his rifle always at hand in case 
of need. For the rest, he felt safe in the woods, 
as an initiate of their secrets, and it was unusual 
for him to carry in his wanderings any weapon 
but a stout stick and the sheath-knife in his belt. 

Now, however, when he set himself to discover 
what it was that haunted his footsteps in the gloom, 
he took his little rifle and in this act betrayed to 
himself more uneasiness than he had been willing 
to acknowledge. 

This especial afternoon he got the hired man 
to look after the cows for him, and betook himself 
early, about two hours before sundown, to the 
young pine wood where the mystery had begun. In 
the heart of a little thicket, where he was partly 
concealed and where the gray-brown of his clothes 
blended with the stems and dead branches, he seated 
himself comfortably with his back against a 
stump. Experience had taught him that, in order 
to hold himself long in one position, the position 
chosen must be an easy one. Soon his muscles 
relaxed, and all his senses rested, watchful but 
unstrained. He had learned that tensity was a 
thing to be held in reserve until occasion should 
call for it. 


Haunter of tbc pine Gloom 209 

In a little while his presence was ignored or for- 
gotten by the chipmunks, the chickadees, the white- 
throats, and other unafraid creatures. Once a chip- 
munk, on weighty business bent, ran over his legs 
rather than go around so unoffending an obstacle. 
The chickadees played antics on the branches, and 
the air was beaded sweetly everywhere with their 
familiar sic-a-dee, dee-ee. A white-throat in the 
tree right over his head whistled his mellow dear, 
dear ee die dee ee die dee ee die dee, over and over. 
But there was nothing new in all this : and at length 
he began to grow conscious of his position, and 
desirous of changing it slightly. 

Before he had quite made up his mind to this 
momentous step there came upon his ear a beating 
of wings, and a fine cock grouse alighted on a log 
some forty paces distant. He stretched himself, 
strutted, spread his ruff and wings and tail, and 
was about to begin drumming. But before the first 
sonorous note rolled out there was a rustle and a 
pounce. The beautiful bird bounded into the air 
as if hurled from a spring; and a great lynx landed 
on the log, digging his claws fiercely into the spot 
where the grouse had stood. As the bird rocketed 
off through the trees the lynx glared after him, and 
emitted a loud, screeching snarl of rage. His dis- 

a io Ubc Irtnoreo of tbe 

appointment was so obvious and childish that the 
Boy almost laughed out. 

" Lucifee," said he to himself, giving it the name 
it went by in all the back settlements. " That's the 
fellow that has been haunting me. I didn't think 
there were any lynxes this side of the mountain. 
He hasn't seen me, that's sure. So now it's my 
turn to haunt him a bit." 

The lucifee, indeed, had for the moment thrown 
off all concealment, in his fury at the grouse's es- 
cape. His stub of a tail twitched and his pale 
bright eyes looked around for something on which 
to vent his feelings. Suddenly, however, a wander- 
ing puff of air blew the scent of the Boy to his 
nostrils. On the instant, like the soundless melting 
of a shadow, he was down behind the log, taking 
observations through the veil of a leafy branch. 

Though the animal was looking straight toward 
him, the Boy felt sure he was not seen. The eyes, 
indeed, were but following the nose. The lynx's 
nose is not so keen and accurate in its information 
as are the noses of most of the other wild folk, 
and the animal was puzzled. The scent was very 
familiar to him, for had he not been investigating 
the owner of it for over a week, following him at 
every opportunity with mingled curiosity and 

ZIbe Hiaunter of tbe pine (Bloom *n 

hatred? Now, judging by the scent, the object 
of his curiosity was close at hand yet incompre- 
hensibly invisible. After sniffing and peering for 
some minutes he came out from behind the log and 
crept forward, moving like a shadow, and following 
up the scent. From bush to tree-trunk, from thicket 
to stump, he glided with incredible smoothness and 
rapidity, elusive to the eye, utterly inaudible; and 
behind each shelter he crouched to again take 
observations. The Boy thought of him, now, as 
a sort of malevolent ghost in fur, and no longer 
wondered that he had failed to catch a glimpse of 
him before. 

The lynx (this was the first of its tribe the Boy 
had ever seen, but he knew the kind by reputation) 
was a somewhat doggish-looking cat, perhaps four 
or five times the weight of an ordinary Tom, and 
with a very uncatlike length of leg in proportion 
to its length of body. Its hindquarters were dis- 
proportionately high, its tail ridiculously short. 
Spiky tufts to its ears and a peculiar brushing back 
of the fur beneath its chin gave its round and fierce- 
eyed countenance an expression at once savage and 
grotesque. Most grotesque of all were the huge, 
noiseless pads of its feet, muffled in fur. Its colour 
was a tawny, weather-beaten gray-brown; its eyes 
pale, round, brilliant, and coldly cruel. 

212 Ube Ikfnoreo of tbe 

At length the animal, on a stronger puff of air, 
located the scent more closely. This was obvious 
from a sudden stiffening of his muscles. His eyes 
began to discern a peculiarity in the pine trunk 
some twenty paces ahead. Surely that was no ordi- 
nary pine trunk, that! No, indeed, that was where 
the scent of the Boy came from and the hair 
on his back bristled fiercely. In fact, it was the 
Boy! The lucifee's first impulse, on the discovery, 
was to shrink off like a mist, and leave further 
investigation to a more favourable opportunity. 
But he thought better of it because the Boy was so 
still. Could he be asleep? Or, perhaps, dead? At 
any rate, it would seem, he was for the moment 
harmless. Curiosity overcoming discretion, and 
possibly hatred suggesting a chance of advanta- 
geous attack, the animal lay down, his paws folded 
under him, contemplatively, and studied with round, 
fierce eyes the passive figure beneath the tree. 

The Boy, meanwhile, returned the stare with like 
interest, but through narrowed lids, lest his eyes 
should betray him; and his heart beat fast with 
the excitement of the situation. There was a most 
thrilling uncertainty, indeed, as to what the animal 
would do next. He was glad he had brought his 


TTbe SHaunter of tbe pine 6loom 215 

Presently the lucifee arose and began creeping 
stealthily closer, at the same time swerving off to 
the right as if to get behind the tree. Whether his 
purpose in this was to escape unseen or to attack 
from the rear, the Boy could not decide; but what 
he did decide was that the game was becoming 
hazardous and should be brought to immediate 
close. He did not want to be compelled to shoot 
the beast in self-defence, for, this being the first 
lynx he had ever seen, he wanted to study him. So, 
suddenly, with the least possible movement of his 
features, he squeaked like a wood-mouse, then quit- 
quit-^ like a grouse, then gave to a nicety the 
sonorous call of the great horned owl. 

The astonished lynx seemed to shrink into him- 
self, as he flattened against the ground, grown 
moveless as a stone. It was incredible, appalling 
indeed, that these familiar and well-understood 
voices should all come from that same impassive 
figure. He crouched unstirring for so long that 
at last the shadows began to deepen perceptibly. 
The Boy remembered that he had heard, some time 
ago, the bells of the returning cows ; and he realised 
that it might not be well to give his adversary the 
advantage of the dark. Nevertheless, the experi- 
ence was one of absorbing interest and he hated 
to close it. 

216 Ube lttnfcre& of tbc 

At length the lucifee came to the conclusion that 
the mystery should be probed more fully. Once 
more he rose upon his padded, soundless paws, and 
edged around stealthily to get behind the tree. This 
was not to be permitted. The Boy burst into a peal 
of laughter and rose slowly to his feet. On the 
instant the lucifee gave a bound, like a great rubber 
ball, backward into a thicket. It seemed as if his 
big feet were all feathers, and as if every tree 
trunk bent to intervene and screen his going. The 
Boy rubbed his eyes, bewildered at so complete and 
instantaneous an exit. Grasping his rifle in readi- 
ness, he hurried forward, searching every thicket, 
looking behind every stump and trunk. The 
haunter of the gloom had disappeared. 

After this, however, the Boy was no more troub- 
led by the mysterious pursuit. The lynx had evi- 
dently found out all he required to know about him. 
On the other hand the Boy was balked in his pur- 
pose of finding out all he wanted to know about 
the lynx. That wary animal eluded all his most 
patient and ingenious lyings-in-wait, until the Boy 
began to feel that his woodcraft was being turned 
to a derision. Only once more that autumn did 
he catch a glimpse of his shy opponent, and then 
by chance, when he was on another trail. Hidden 


TEbe Haunter of tbe Ipine (Bloom 219 

at the top of a thick-wooded bank he was watching 
a mink at its fishing in the brook below. But as 
it turned out, the dark little fisherman had another 
watcher as well. The pool in the brook was full 
of large suckers. The mink had just brought one 
to land in his triangular jaws and was proceeding 
to devour it, when a silent gray thunderbolt fell 
upon him. There was a squeak and a snarl; and 
the long, snaky body of the mink lay as still as 
that of the fish which had been its prey. Crouching 
over his double booty, a paw on each, the lynx 
glared about him in exultant pride. The scent of 
the Boy, high on the bank above, did not come to 
him. The fish, as the more highly prized tidbit, 
he devoured at once. Then, after licking his lips 
and polishing his whiskers, he went loping off 
through the woods with the limp body of the mink 
hanging from his jaws, to eat it at leisure in his lair. 
The Boy made up his mind to find out where that 
lair was hidden. But his searchings were all 
vain, and he tried to console himself with the 
theory that the animal was wont to travel great 
distances in his hunting a theory which he knew 
in his heart to be contrary to the customs of the 
During the winter he was continually tantalised 

ot tbe 

by coming across the lucifee's tracks great foot- 
prints, big enough to do for the trail-signature of 
the panther himself. If he followed these tracks 
far he was sure to find interesting records of wilder- 
ness adventure here a spot where the lynx had 
sprung upon a grouse, and missed it, or upon a hare, 
and caught it; and once he found the place where 
the big furry paws had dug down to the secret 
white retreat where a grouse lay sleeping under the 
snow. But by and by the tracks would cross each 
other, and make wide circles, or end in a tree where 
there was no lucifee to be found. And the Boy 
was too busy at home to give the time which he 
saw it would require to unravel the maze to its 
end. But he refused to consider himself defeated. 
He merely regarded his triumph as postponed. 

Early in the spring the triumph came though 
not just the triumph he had expected. Before the 
snow was quite gone, and when the sap was begin- 
ning to flow from the sugar maples, he went with 
the hired man to tap a grove of extra fine trees 
some five miles east from the settlement. Among 
the trees they had a sugar camp; and when not 
at the sugar-making, the Boy explored a near-by 
burnt-land ridge, very rocky and rich in coverts, 
where he had often thought the old lynx, his adver- 

sary, might have made his lair. Here, the second 
day after his arrival, he came upon a lucifee track. 
But it was not the track with which he was familiar. 
It was smaller, and the print of the right forefoot 
lacked a toe. 

The Boy grinned happily and rubbed his mit- 
tened hands. " Aha ! " said he to himself, " better 
and better! There is a Mrs. Lucifee. Now we'll 
see where she hides her kittens." 

The trail was an easy one this time, for no 
enemies had been looked for in that desert neigh- 
bourhood. He followed it for about half a mile, 
and then caught sight of a hollow under an over- 
hanging rock, to which the tracks seemed to lead. 
Working around to get the wind in his face, he 
stole cautiously nearer, till he saw that the hollow 
was indeed the entrance to a cave, and that the 
tracks led directly into it. He had no desire to 
investigate further, with the risk of finding the 
lucifee at home ; and it was getting too late for him 
to undertake his usual watching tactics. He with- 
drew stealthily and returned to the camp in 

In the night a thaw set in, so the Boy was spared 
the necessity of waiting for the noon sun to soften 
the snow and make the walking noiseless. He set 

322 abe fUnfcrefc of tbe TWUlfc 

out on the very edge of sunrise, and reached his 
hiding-place while the mouth of the cave was still 
in shadow. On the usual crisp mornings of sugar 
season the snow at such an hour would have borne 
a crust, to crackle sharply under every footstep 
and proclaim an intruding presence to all the wood 
folk for a quarter of a mile about. 

After waiting for a good half-hour, his eyes 
glued to a small black opening under the rock, his 
heart gave a leap of strong, joyous excitement. He 
saw the lucifee's head appear in the doorway. She 
peered about her cautiously, little dreaming, how- 
ever, that there was any cause for caution. Then 
she came forth into the blue morning light, yawned 
hugely, and stretched herself like a cat. She was 
smaller than the Boy's old adversary, somewhat 
browner in hue, leaner, and of a peculiarly malig- 
nant expression. The Boy had an instant intuition 
that she would be the more dangerous antagonist 
of the two; and a feeling of sharp hostility toward 
her, such as he had never felt toward her mate, 
arose in his heart. 

When she had stretched to her satisfaction, and 
washed her face perfunctorily with two or three 
sweeps of her big paw, she went back into the cave. 
In two or three minutes she reappeared, and this 


Haunter of tbc pine (Bloom s 

time with a brisk air of purpose. She turned to 
the right, along a well-worn trail, ran up a tree 
to take a survey of the country, descended hastily, 
and glided away among the thickets. 

" It's breakfast she's after," said the Boy to him- 
self, " and she'll take some time to find it." 

When she had been some ten minutes gone, the 
Boy went boldly down to the cave. He had no 
fear of encountering the male, because he knew 
from an old hunter who had taught him his first 
wood-lore that the male lucifee is not popular with 
his mate at whelping time, having a truly Saturnian 
fashion of devouring his own offspring. But there 
was the possibility, remote, indeed, but disquieting, 
of the mother turning back to see to some neglected 
duty; and with this chance in view he held his 
rifle ready. 

Inside the cave he stood still and waited for his 
eyes to get used to the gloom. Then he discovered, 
in one corner, on a nest of fur and dry grass, a 
litter of five lucifee whelps. They were evidently 
very young, little larger than ordinary kittens, and 
too young to know fear, but their eyes were wide 
open, and they stood up on strong legs when he 
touched them softly with his palm. Disappointed 
in their expectation of being nursed, they mewed, 

226 Ube Rtnfcret) of tbe 1QHI& 

and there was something in their cries that sounded 
strangely wild and fierce. To the Boy's great sur- 
prise, they were quite different in colour from their 
gray-brown, unmarked parents, being striped 
vividly and profusely, like a tabby or tiger. The 
Boy was delighted with them, and made up his 
mind that when they were a few days older he 
would take two of them home with him to be 
brought up in the ways of civilisation. 

Three days later he again visited the den, this-, 
time with a basket in which to carry away his 
prizes. After waiting an hour to see if the mother 
were anywhere about, he grew impatient. Stealing 
as close to the cave's mouth as the covert would 
permit, he squeaked like a wood-mouse several 
times. This seductive sound bringing no response, 
he concluded that the old lucifee must be absent. 
He went up to the mouth of the cave and peered 
in, holding his rifle in front of his face in readiness 
for an instant shot. When his eyes got command 
of the dusk, he saw to his surprise that the den was 
empty. He entered and felt the vacant nest. It 
was quite cold, and had a deserted air. Then he 
realised what had happened, and cursed his clumsi- 
ness. The old lucifee, when she came back to her 
den, had learned by means of her nose that her 

Haunter of tbe pine (Bloom 227 

enemy had discovered her hiding-place and touched 
her young with his defiling human hands, there- 
upon in wrath she had carried them away to some 
remote and unviolated lair. Till they were grown 
to nearly the full stature of lucifee destructiveness, 
the Boy saw no more of his wonderful lucifee 

Toward the latter part of the summer, however, 
he began to think that perhaps he had made a mis- 
take in leaving these fierce beasts to multiply. He 
no longer succeeded in catching sight of them as 
they went about their furtive business, for they had 
somehow become aware of his woodcraft and dis- 
trustful of their own shifts. But on all sides he 
found trace of their depredations among the weaker 
creatures. He observed that the rabbits were 
growing scarce about the settlement; and even the 
grouse were less numerous in the upland thickets 
of young birch. As all the harmless wood folk 
were his friends, he began to feel that he had been 
false to them in sparing their enemies. Thereupon, 
he took to carrying his rifle whenever he went 
exploring. He had not really declared war upon 
the haunters of the glooms, but his relations with 
them were becoming distinctly strained. 

At length the rupture came; and it was violent. 

228 Ube 1kfn&re& ot tbe 

In one of the upland pastures, far back from the 
settlement, he came upon the torn carcass of a 
half-grown lamb. He knew that this was no work 
of a bear, for the berries were abundant that au- 
tumn, and the bear prefers berries to mutton. 
Moreover, when a bear kills a sheep he skins it 
deftly and has the politeness to leave the pelt rolled 
up in a neat bundle, just to indicate to the farmer 
that he has been robbed by a gentleman. But this 
carcass was torn and mangled most untidily; and 
the Boy divined the culprits. 

It was early in the afternoon when he made his 
find, and he concluded that the lucifees were likely 
to return to their prey before evening. He hid 
himself, therefore, behind a log thickly fringed with 
juniper, not twenty-five paces from the carcass; and 
waited, rifle in hand. 

A little before sunset appeared the five young 
lucifees, now nearly full grown. They fell at once 
to tearing at the carcass, with much jealous snarling 
and fighting. Soon afterwards came the mother, 
with a well-fed, leisurely air; and at her heels, 
the big male of the Boy's first acquaintance. It was 
evident that, now that the rabbits were getting 
scarce, the lucifees were hunting in packs, a custom 
very unusual with these unsocial beasts under ordi- 


Ube Haunter of tbe jpine Gloom 231 

nary circumstances, and only adopted when seek- 
ing big game. The big male cuffed the cubs aside 
without ceremony, mounted the carcass with an 
air of lordship, glared about him, and suddenly, 
with a snarl of wrath, fixed his eyes upon the green 
branches wherein the Boy lay concealed. At the 
same time the female, who had stopped short, snif- 
fing and peering suspiciously, crouched to her belly, 
and began to crawl very softly and stealthily, as 
a cat crawls upon an unsuspecting bird, toward the 
innocent-looking juniper thicket. 

The Boy realised that he had presumed too far 
upon the efficacy of stillness, and that the lynxes, 
at this close range, had detected him. He realised, 
too, that now, jealous in the possession of their 
prey, they had somehow laid aside their wonted 
fear of him; and he congratulated himself heartily 
that his little rifle was a repeater. Softly he raised 
it to take aim at the nearest, and to him the most 
dangerous of his foes, the cruel-eyed female; but 
in doing so he stirred, ever so little, the veiling 
fringe of juniper. At the motion the big male 
sprang forward, with two great bounds, and 
crouched within ten yards of the log. His stub of 
a tail twitched savagely. He was plainly nerving 
himself to the attack. 

232 TTbe Tkinfcrefc ot tbe TOlfc 

There was no time to lose. Taking quick but 
careful aim, the Boy fired. The bullet found its 
mark between the brute's eyes, and he straightened 
out where he lay, without a kick. At the sound 
and the flash the female doubled upon herself as 
quick as light; and before the Boy could get a shot 
at her she was behind a stump some rods away, 
shrinking small, and fleeing like a gray shred of 
vapour. The whelps, too, had vanished with almost 
equal skill all but one. He, less alert and intelli- 
gent than his fellows, tried concealment behind a 
clump of pink fireweed. But the Boy's eyes pierced 
the screen ; and the next bullet, cutting the fireweed 
stalks, took vengeance for many slaughtered hares 
and grouse. 

After this the Boy saw no more of his enemies 
for some months, but though they had grown still 
more wary their experience had not made them 
less audacious. Before the snow fell they had killed 
another sheep; and the Boy was sure that they, 
rather than any skunks or foxes, were to blame for 
the disappearance of several geese from his flock. 
His primeval hunting instincts were now aroused, 
and he was no longer merely the tender-hearted 
and sympathetic observer. It was only toward 
the marauding lucifees, however, that his feelings 

Ztbe Haunter of tbe pine (Bloom 233 

had changed. The rest of the wild folk he loved 
as well as before, but for the time he was too busy 
to think of them. 

When the snow came, and footsteps left their tell- 
tale records, the Boy found to his surprise that he 
had but one lucifee to deal with. Every lynx track 
in the neighbourhood had a toe missing on the 
right forefoot. It was clear that the whelps of 
last spring had shirked the contest and betaken 
themselves to other and safer hunting-grounds; 
but he felt that between himself and the vindictive 
old female it was war to the knife. Her tracks 
fairly quartered the outlying fields all about his 
father's farm, and were even to be found now and 
again around the sheep-pen and the fowl-house. 
Yet never, devise he ever so cunningly, did he get 
a glimpse of so much as her gray stub tail. 

At last, through an open window, she invaded 
the sheep-pen by night and killed two young ewes. 
To the Boy this seemed mere wantonness of cruelty, 
and he set his mind to a vengeance which he had 
hitherto been unwilling to consider. He resolved 
to trap his enemy, since he could not shoot her. 

Now, as a mere matter of woodcraft, he knew 
all about trapping and snaring; but ever since the 
day, now five years gone, when he had been heart- 

234 Ube "Rinoreo of tbe TKI1U& 

stricken by his first success in rabbit-snaring, he had 
hated everything like a snare or trap. Now, how- 
ever, in the interests of all the helpless creatures 
of the neighbourhood, wild or tame, he made up his 
mind to snare the lucifee. He went about it with 
his utmost skill, in a fashion taught him by an 
old Indian trapper. 

Close beside one of his foe's remoter runways, 
in an upland field where the hares were still abun- 
dant, the Boy set his snare. It was just a greatly 
exaggerated rabbit snare, of extra heavy wire and 
a cord of triple strength. But instead of being 
attached to the top of a bent-down sapling, it was 
fastened to a billet of wood about four feet long 
and nearly two inches in diameter. This sub- 
stantial stick was supported on two forked uprights 
driven into the snow beside the runway. Then 
young fir-bushes were stuck about it carefully in 
a way to conceal evidence of his handiwork ; and 
an artful arrangement of twigs disguised the 
ambushed loop of wire. 

Just behind the loop of wire, and some inches 
below it, the Boy arranged his bait. This consisted 
of the head and skin of a hare, stuffed carefully 
with straw, and posed in a lifelike attitude. It 
seemed, indeed, to be comfortably sleeping on the 

ttbe Haunter of tbe pine Gloom 235 

snow, under the branches of a young fir-tree; and 
the Boy felt confident that the tempting sight 
would prevent the wily old lucifee from taking any 
thought to the surroundings before securing the 

Late that afternoon, when rose and gold were 
in the sky, and the snowy open spaces were of a 
fainter rose, and the shadows took on an ashy 
purple under the edges of the pines and firs, the 
old lucifee came drifting along like a phantom. 
She peered hungrily under every bush, hoping to 
catch some careless hare asleep. On a sudden a 
greenish fire flamed into her wide eyes. She 
crouched, and moved even more stealthily than 
was her wont. The snow, the trees, the still, sweet 
evening light, seemed to invest her with silence. 
Very soundly it slept, that doomed hare, crouching 
under the fir-bush! And now, she was within 
reach of her spring. She shot forward, straight 
and strong and true. 

Her great paws covered the prey, indeed; but 
at the same instant a sharp, firm grip clutched her 
throat with a jerk, and then something hit her 
a sharp rap over the shoulders. With a wild leap 
backward and aside she sought to evade the mys- 
terious attack. But the noose settled firmly behind 

236 Ube frtntoefc of tbe TKHU& 

her ears, and the billet of wood, with a nasty tug 
at her throat, leapt after her. 

So this paltry thing was her assailant ! She flew 
into a wild rage at the stick, tearing at it with her 
teeth and claws. But this made no difference 
with the grip about her throat, so she backed off 
again. The stick followed and the grip tight- 
ened. Bracing her forepaws upon the wood she 
pulled fiercely to free herself; and the wire drew 
taut till her throat was almost closed. Her rage 
had hastened her doom, fixing the noose where 
there was no such thing as clawing it off. Then 
fear took the place of rage in her savage heart. 
Her lungs seemed bursting. She began to realise 
that it was not the stick, but some more potent 
enemy whom she must circumvent or overcome. 
She picked up the billet between her jaws, climbed 
a big birch-tree which grew close by, ran out upon 
a limb some twenty feet from the ground, and 
dropped the stick, thinking thus to rid herself of 
the throttling burden. 

The shock, as the billet reached the end of its 
drop, jerked her from her perch; but clutching 
frantically she gained a foothold on another limb 
eight or ten feet lower down. There she clung, 
her tongue out, her eyes filming, her breath stopped, 

ffiaunter of tbe jpine (Bloom 237 

strange colours of flame and darkness rioting in 
her brain. Bracing herself with all her remaining 
strength against the pull of the dangling stick, she 
got one paw firmly fixed against a small jutting 
branch. Thus it happened that when, a minute 
later, her life went out and she fell, she fell on 
the other side of the limb. The billet of wood 
flew up, caught in a fork, and held fast; and the 
limp, tawny body, twitching for a minute convul- 
sively, hung some six or seven feet above its own 
tracks in the snow. 

An hour or two later the moon rose, silvering the 
open spaces. Then, one by one and two by two, 
the hares came leaping down the aisles of pine 
and fir. Hither and thither around the great birch- 
tree they played, every now and then stopping to 
sit up and thump challenges to their rivals. And 
because it was quite still, they never saw the body 
of their deadliest foe, hanging stark from the branch 
above them. 

Gbe Matcbers of tbe <amp*]ftre 

'OR five years the big panther, who ruled 
the ragged plateau around the head 
waters of the Upsalquitch, had been 
well content with his hunting-ground. This win- 
ter, however, it had failed him. His tawny sides 
were lank with hunger. Rabbits and none too 
many of them were but thin and spiritless meat 
for such fiery blood as his. His mighty and rest- 
less muscles consumed too swiftly the unsatisfy- 
ing food ; and he was compelled to hunt continually, 
foregoing the long, recuperative sleeps which the 
tense springs of his organism required. Every 
fibre in his body was hungering for a full meal 
of red-blooded meat, the sustaining flesh of deer 
or caribou. The deer, of course, he did not ex- 
pect on these high plains and rough hills of the 
Upsalquitch. They loved the well-wooded ridges 
of the sheltered, low-lying lands. But the caribou 
for five years their wandering herds had 
thronged these plains, where the mosses they loved 

242 Ube frtnoreo of tbe 

grew luxuriantly. And now, without warning or 
excuse, they had vanished. 

The big panther knew the caribou. He knew 
that, with no reason other than their own caprice, 
the restless gray herds would drift away, forsaking 
the most congenial pastures, journey swiftly and 
eagerly league upon inconsequent league, and at 
last rest seemingly content with more perilous 
ranges and scanter forage, in a region remote and 

He was an old beast, ripe in the craft of the 
hunt; and the caribou had done just what he knew 
in his heart they were likely to do. Nevertheless, 
because the head waters of the Upsalquitch were 
much to his liking, the best hunting-ground, 
indeed, that he had ever found, he had hoped 
for a miracle; he had grown to expect that these 
caribou would stay where they were well off. 
Their herds had thriven and increased during the 
five years of his guardianship. He had killed only 
for his needs, never for the lust of killing. He 
had kept all four-foot poachers far from his pre- 
serves; and no hunters cared to push their way 
to the inaccessible Upsalquitch while game was 
abundant on the Tobique and the Miramichi. He 
knew all these wilderness waters of northern New 

Ube TKHatcbers of tbe Campsite 245 

Brunswick, having been born not far from the 
sources of the Nashwaak, and worked his way 
northward as soon as he was full-grown, to escape 
the hated neighbourhood of the settlements. He 
knew that his vanished caribou would find no 
other pastures so rich and safe as these which they 
had left. Nevertheless, they had left them. And 
now, after a month of rabbit meat, he would for- 
sake them, too. He would move down westward, 
and either come upon the trail of his lost herds, or 
push over nearer to the St. John valley and find 
a country of deer. 

The big panther was no lover of long journey- 
ings, and he did not travel with the air of one 
bent on going far. He lingered much to hunt 
rabbits on the way; and wherever he found a lair 
to his liking he settled himself as if for a long 
sojourn. Nevertheless he had no idea of halting 
until he should reach a land of deer or caribou, and 
his steady drift to westward carried him far in 
the course of a week. The snow, though deep, 
was well packed by a succession of driving winds, 
and his big, spreading paws carried him over its 
surface as if he had been shod with snow-shoes. 

By the end of a week, however, the continuous 
travelling on the unsubstantial diet of rabbit meat 

246 be ftitrtret* ol tbe TKUto 

had begun to tell upon him. He was hungry and 
unsatisfied all the time, and his temper became 
abominable. Now and then in the night he was 
fortunate enough to surprise a red squirrel asleep 
in its nest, or a grouse rooting in its thicket; but 
these were mere atoms to his craving, and moreover 
their flesh belonged to the same pale order as that of 
his despised rabbits. When he came to a beaver 
village, the rounded domes of the houses dotting 
the snowy level of their pond, a faint steam of 
warmth and moisture arising from their ventilating 
holes like smoke, he sometimes so far forgot himself 
as to waste a few minutes in futile clawing at the 
roofs, though he knew well enough that several feet 
of mud, frozen to the solidity of rock, protected 
the savoury flat-tails from his appetite. 

Once, in a deep, sheltered river-valley, where a 
strong rapid and a narrow deep cascade kept open 
a black pool of water all through the winter frost, 
his luck and his wits working together gained him 
a luncheon of fat porcupine. Tempted from its 
den by the unwonted warmth of noonday, the 
porcupine had crawled out upon a limb to observe 
how the winter was passing, and to sniff for signs 
of spring in the air. At the sight of the panther, 
who had climbed the tree and cut off its retreat, it 

ttbe Watchers of the Gamp-fftre 247 

bristled its black and white quills, whirled about 
on its branch, and eyed its foe with more anger 
than terror, confident in its pointed spines. 

The panther understood and respected that fine 
array of needle-points, and ordinarily would have 
gone his way hungry rather than risk the peril 
of getting his paws and nose stuck full of those 
barbed weapons. But just now his cunning was 
very keenly on edge. He crawled within striking 
distance of the porcupine, and reached out his 
great paw, gingerly enough, to clutch the latter's 
unprotected face. Instantly the porcupine rolled 
itself into a bristling ball of needle-points and 
dropped to the ground below. 

The panther followed at a single bound; but 
there was no need whatever of hurry. The porcu- 
pine lay on the snow, safely coiled up within its 
citadel of quills; and the panther lay down beside 
it, waiting for it to unroll. But after half an hour 
of this vain waiting, patience gave out and he 
began experimenting. Extending his claws to the 
utmost, so that the quill-points should not come in 
contact with the fleshy pads of his foot, he softly 
turned the porcupine over. Now it chanced that the 
hard, glassy snow whereon it lay sloped toward the 
open pool, and the bristling ball moved several feet 

248 ttbe fdn&ret) of tbe 

down the slope. The panther's pale eyes gleamed 
with a sudden thought. He pushed the ball again, 
very, very delicately. Again, and yet again ; till, 
suddenly, reaching a spot where the slope was 
steeper, it rolled of its own accord, and dropped 
with a splash into the icy current. 

As it came to the surface the porcupine straight- 
ened itself out to swim for the opposite shore. But 
like a flash the panther's paw scooped under it, and 
the long keen claws caught it in the unshielded 
belly. Unavailing now were those myriad bristling 
spear-points; and when the panther continued his 
journey he left behind him but a skin of quills 
and some blood-stains on the snow, to tell the 
envious lucifees that one had passed that way who 
knew how to outwit the porcupine. 

On the following day, about noon, he came across 
an astonishing and incomprehensible trail, at the 
first sight and scent of which the hair rose along 
his backbone. 

The scent of the strange trail he knew, and 
hated it, and feared it. It was the man-scent. Bui 
the shape and size of the tracks at first appalled 
him. He had seen men, and the footprints of men; 
but never men with feet so vast as these. The 
trail was perhaps an hour old. He sniffed at it and 


ttbe TKflatcbers of tbe Campsite 251 

puzzled over it for a time; and then, perceiving 
that the man-scent clung only in a little depression 
about the centre of each track, concluded that the 
man who had made the track was no bigger than 
such men as he had seen. The rest of the trail 
was a puzzle, indeed, but it presently ceased to 
appal. Thereupon he changed his direction, and 
followed the man's trail at a rapid pace. His cour- 
age was not strung up to the pitch of resolving 
to attack this most dangerous and most dreaded of 
all creatures; but his hunger urged him insistently, 
and he hoped for some lucky chance of catching 
the man at a disadvantage. Moreover, it would 
soon be night, and he knew that with darkness his 
courage would increase, while that of the man 
a creature who could not see well in the dark 
should by all the laws of the wilderness diminish. 
He licked his lean chops at the thought of what 
would happen to the man unawares. 

For some time he followed the trail at a sham- 
bling lope, every now and then dropping into an 
easy trot for the easement of the change. Occa- 
sionally he would stop and lie down for a few 
minutes at full length, to rest his overdriven lungs, 
being short-winded after the fashion of his kind. 
But when, toward sundown, when the shadows 

252 ttbe fcinfcreo of tbe Milt) 

began to lengthen and turn blue upon the snow, and 
the western sky, through the spruce-tops, took upon 
a bitter wintry orange dye, he noticed that the 
trail was growing fresher. So strong did the man- 
scent become that he expected every moment to 
catch a glimpse of the man through the thicket. 
Thereupon he grew very cautious. No longer would 
he either lope or trot; but he crept forward, belly 
to the ground, setting down each paw with delicacy 
and precaution. He kept turning the yellow flame 
of his eyes from side to side continually, searching 
the undergrowth on every hand, and often looking 
back along his own track. He knew that men 
were sometimes inconceivably stupid, but at other 
times cunning beyond all the craft of the wood folk. 
He was not going to let himself become the hunted 
instead of the hunter, caught in the old device of 
the doubled trail. 

At last, as twilight was gathering headway 
among the thickets, he was startled by a succession 
of sharp sounds just ahead of him. He stopped, 
and crouched motionless in his tracks. But pres- 
ently he recognised and understood the sharp 
sounds, especially when they were followed by a 
crackling and snapping of dry branches. They 
were axe-strokes. He had heard them in the neigh- 

TRUatcbers of tbe Gamp-jfire 253 

bourhood of the lumber camps, before his five years' 
retirement on the head waters of the Upsalquitch. 
With comprehension came new courage, for the 
wild folk put human wisdom to shame in their 
judicious fear of what they do not understand. He 
crept a little nearer, and from safe hiding watched 
the man at his task of gathering dry firewood for 
the night. From time to time the man looked about 
him alertly, half suspiciously, as if he felt himself 
watched; but he could not discover the pale, cruel 
eyes that followed him unwinking from the depths 
of the hemlock thicket. 

In a few minutes the panther was surprised to 
see the man take one of his heavy snow-shoes and 
begin digging vigorously at the snow. In a little 
while there was a circular hole dug so deep that 
when the man stood up in it little more than his 
head and shoulders appeared over the edge. Then 
he carried in a portion of the wood which he had 
cut, together with a big armful of spruce boughs; 
and he busied himself for awhile at the bottom 
of the hole, his head appearing now and then, but 
only for a moment. The panther was filled with 
curiosity, but restrained himself from drawing 
nearer to investigate. Then, when it had grown 
so dark that he was about to steal from his hiding 

254 Ube Htnoreo of tbe Milt* 

and creep closer, suddenly there was a flash of 
light, and smoke and flame arose from the hole, 
throwing a red, revealing glare on every covert; 
and the panther, his lips twitching and his hair 
rising, shrank closer into his retreat. 

The smoke, and the scent of the burning sticks, 
killed the scent of the man in the panther's nostrils. 
But presently there was a new scent, warm, rich, 
and appetising. The panther did not know it, but 
he liked it. It was the smell of frying bacon. 
Seeing that the man was much occupied over the 
fire, the hungry beast made a partial circuit of the 
camp-fire, and noiselessly climbed a tree whence 
he could look down into the mysterious hole. 

From this post of vantage he watched the man 
make his meal, smoke his pipe, replenish the fire, 
and finally, rolling himself in his heavy blanket, 
compose himself to sleep. Then, little by little, 
the panther crept nearer. He feared the fire; but 
the fire soon began to die down, and he despised it 
as he saw it fading. He crept out upon a massive 
hemlock limb, almost overlooking the hole, but 
screened by a veil of fine green branches. From 
this post he could spring upon the sleeper at one 
bound, as soon as he could make up his mind 
to the audacious enterprise. He feared the man, 

Ube Matcbers ot tbe Gamp*jfire 255 

even asleep; in fact, he stood in strange awe of 
the helpless, slumbering form. But little by little 
he began to realise that he feared his own hunger 
more. Lower and lower sank the fainting fire; 
and he resolved that as soon as the sleeper should 
stir in his sleep, beginning to awake, he would 
spring. But the sleeper slept unstirring; and so 
the panther, equally unstirring, watched. 


A little beyond the camp-fire where the man lay 
sleeping under those sinister eyes, rose the slopes 
of a wooded ridge. The ridge was covered with 
a luxuriant second growth of birch, maple, Canada 
fir, moose-wood, and white spruce, the ancient 
forest having fallen years before under the axes of 
the lumbermen. Here on the ridge, where the food 
they loved was abundant, a buck, with his herd of 
does and fawns, had established his winter " yard." 
With their sharp, slim hoofs which cut deep into 
the snow, if the deer were compelled to seek their 
food at large they would find themselves at the 
mercy of every foe as soon as the snow lay deep 
enough to impede their running. It is their custom, 
therefore, at the beginning of winter, to select a 
locality where the food supply will not fail them, 

256 tCbe fdufcrefc of tbe 

and intersect the surface of the snow in every direc- 
tion with an inextricable labyrinth of paths. These 
paths are kept well trodden, whatever snow may 
fall. If straightened out they would reach for 
many a league. To unravel their intricacies is 
a task to which only the memories of their makers 
are equal, and along them the deer flee like wraiths 
at any alarm. If close pressed by an enemy they 
will leap, light as birds, from one deep path to 
another, leaving no mark on the intervening barrier 
of snow, and breaking the trail effectually. Thus 
when the snow lies deep, the yard becomes their 
spacious citadel, and the despair of pursuing lynx 
or panther. A herd of deer well yarded, under the 
leadership of an old and crafty buck, will come safe 
and sleek through the fiercest wilderness winter. 

The little herd which occupied this particular 
yard chanced to be feeding, in the glimmer of the 
winter twilight, very near the foot of the ridge, 
when suddenly a faint red glow, stealing through 
the branches, caught the old buck's eye. There was 
a quick stamp of warning, and on the instant the 
herd turned to statues, their faces all one way, their 
sensitive ears, vibrating nostrils, and wide atten- 
tive eyes all striving to interpret the prodigy. They 
were a herd of the deep woods. Not one of them 

Ube TKlatcbers of tbe Camp*3ffre 257 

had ever been near the settlements. Not even the 
wise old leader had ever seen a fire. This light, 
when the sun had set and no moon held the sky, 
was inexplicable. 

But to the deer a mystery means something to 
be solved. He has the perilous gift of curiosity. 
After a few minutes of moveless watching, the whole 
herd, in single file, began noiselessly threading the 
lower windings of the maze, drawing nearer and 
nearer to the strange light. When the first smell 
of the burning came to their nostrils they stopped 
again, but not for long. That smell was just 
another mystery to be looked into. At the smell 
of the frying pork they stopped again, this time 
for a longer period and with symptoms of uneasi- 
ness. To their delicate nerves there was something 
of a menace in that forbidding odour. But even 
so, it was to be investigated; and very soon they 
resumed their wary advance. 

A few moments more and they came to a spot 
where, peering through a cover of spruce boughs, 
their keen eyes could see the hole in the snow, the 
camp-fire, and the man seated beside it smoking his 
pipe. It was all very wonderful; but instinct told 
them it was perilous, and the old buck decided that 
the information they had acquired was sufficient 

258 Ube 1Rint>reo of tbe THUUo 

for all practical purposes of a deer's daily life. He 
would go no nearer. The whole herd stood there 
for a long time, forgetting to eat, absorbed in the 
novelty and wonder of the scene. 

The whole herd, did I say? There was one 
exception. To a certain young doe that fire was 
the most fascinating thing in life. It drew her. 
It hypnotised her. After a few minutes of still- 
ness she could resist no longer. She pushed past 
the leader of the herd and stole noiselessly toward 
the shining lovely thing. The old buck signalled 
her back, first gently, then angrily ; but she had 
grown forgetful of the laws of the herd. She 
had but one thought, to get nearer to the camp-fire, 
and drench her vision in the entrancing glow. 

Nevertheless, for all her infatuation, she forgot 
not her ancestral gift of prudence. She went noise- 
lessly as a shadow, drifting, pausing, listening, 
sniffing the air, concealing herself behind every 
cover. The rest of the herd gazed after her with 
great eyes of resignation, then left her to her way- 
ward will and resumed their watching of the camp- 
fire. When one member of a herd persists in 
disobeying orders, the rest endure with equanimity 
whatever fate may befall her. 

Step by step, as if treading on egg-shells, the 


TKHatcbers of tbe Campsite 261 

fascinated doe threaded the path till she came to 
the lowest limit of the yard. From that point the 
path swerved back up the ridge, forsaking the 
ruddy glow. The doe paused, hesitating. She was 
still too far from the object of her admiration and 
wonder; but she feared the deep snow. Her 
irresolution soon passed, however. Getting behind 
a thick hemlock, she cautiously raised herself over 
the barrier and made straight for the camp-fire. 

Packed as the snow was, her light weight enabled 
her to traverse it without actually floundering. She 
sank deep at every step, but had perfect control 
of her motions, and made no more sound than if 
she had been a bunch of fur blown softly over the 
surface. Her absorption and curiosity, moreover, 
did not lead her to omit any proper precaution of 
woodcraft. As she approached the fire she kept 
always in the dense, confusing, shifting shadows 
which a camp-fire casts in the forest. These fitful 
shadows were a very effectual concealment. 

At last she found herself so close to the fire that 
only a thicket of young spruce divided her from 
the edge of the hole. 

Planting herself rigidly, her gray form an inde- 
terminate shadow among the blotches and streaks 
of shadow, her wide mild eyes watched the man 

262 ube ftfnorefc of tbe TMIU& 

with intensest interest, as he knocked out his pipe, 
mended the fire, and rolled himself into his blanket 
on the spruce boughs. When she saw that he was 
asleep, she presently forgot about him. Her eyes 
returned to the fire and fixed themselves upon it. 
The veering, diminishing flames held her as by 
sorcery. All else was forgotten, food, foes, and 
the herd alike, as she stared with childlike 
eagerness at the bed of red coals. The pupils of 
her eyes kept alternately expanding and contracting, 
as the glow in the coals waxed and waned under 
the fluctuating breath of passing airs. 


Very early that same morning, a brown and griz- 
zled chopper in Nicholson's camp, having obtained 
a brief leave of absence from the Boss, had started 
out on his snow-shoes for a two days' tramp to 
the settlements. He had been seized the night 
before with a sudden and irresistible homesickness. 
Shrewd, whimsical, humourous, kind, ever ready to 
stand by a comrade, fearless in all the daunting 
emergencies which so often confront the lumbermen 
in their strenuous calling, these sudden attacks of 
homesickness were his one and well-known failing 
in the eyes of his fellows. At least once in every 

TTbc THIlatcbers of tbe Campsite 263 

winter he was sure to be so seized; and equally 
sure to be so favoured by the Boss. On account of 
his popularity in the camp, moreover, this favour 
excited no jealousy. It had come to be taken as 
a matter of course that Mac would go home for 
a few days if one of his " spells " came upon him. 
He was always " docked," to be sure, for the time 
of his absence, but as he never stayed away more 
than a week, his little holiday made no very serious 
breach in his roll when pay-day, came. 

Though not a hunter, the man was a thorough 
woodsman. He knew the woods, and the furtive 
inhabitants of them; and he loved to study their 
ways. Trails, in particular, were a passion with 
him, and he could read the varying purposes of 
the wild things by the changes in their footprints 
on the snow. He was learned, too, in the occult 
ways of the otter, whom few indeed are cunning 
enough to observe ; and he had even a rudimentary 
knowledge of the complex vocabulary of the crow. 
He had no care to kill the wild things, great or 
small; yet he was a famous marksman, with his 
keen gray eye and steady hand. And he always 
carried a rifle on his long, solitary tramps. 

He had two good reasons for carrying the rifle. 
The first of these was the fact that he had never 

264 Ube "Rfnoreo of tbe THfltlt) 

seen a panther, and went always in the hope 
of meeting one. The stories which he had heard 
of them, current in all the lumber camps of northern 
New Brunswick, were so conflicting that he could 
not but feel uncertain as to the terms on which the 
encounter was likely to take place. The only point 
on which he felt assured was that he and the pan- 
ther would some day meet, in spite of the fact 
that the great cat had grown so scarce in New 
Brunswick that some hunters declared it was ex- 
tinct. The second reason was that he had a quarrel 
with all lucifees or lynxes, " Injun devils," he 
called them. Once when he was a baby, just big 
enough to sit up when strapped into his chair, a 
lucifee had come and glared at him with fierce eyes 
through the doorway of his lonely backwoods cabin. 
His mother had come rushing from the cow-shed, 
just in time; and the lucifee, slinking off to the 
woods, had vented his disappointment in a series of 
soul-curdling screeches. The memory of this terror 
was a scar in his heart, which time failed to efface. 
He grew up to hate all lucifees ; and from the day 
when he learned to handle a gun he was always 
ready to hunt them. 

On this particular day of his life he had travelled 
all the morning without adventure, his face set 

TKHatcbers ot tbe Campsite 265 

eagerly toward the west. Along in the afternoon 
he was once or twice surprised by a creeping sensa- 
tion along his backbone and in the roots of the 
hair on his neck. He stopped and peered about 
him searchingly, with a feeling that he was fol- 
lowed. But he had implicit faith in his eyesight; 
and when that revealed no menace he went onward 
reassured. . 

But when the diversion of gathering firewood 
and digging the hole that served him for a camp 
came to an end, and he stooped to build his camp- 
fire, that sensation of being watched came over 
him again. It was so strong that he straightened 
up sharply, and scrutinised every thicket within 
eyeshot. Thereafter, though he could see nothing 
to justify his curious uneasiness, the sensation kept 
recurring insistently all the time that he was occu- 
pied in cooking and eating his meal. When at last 
he was ready to turn in for his brief night's sleep, 
he planned to be afoot again before dawn, 
he heaped his frugal camp-fire a little higher than 
usual, and took the quite unwonted precaution of 
laying his rifle within instant grasp of his hand. 

In spite of these vague warnings, wherein his 
instinct showed itself so much more sagacious than 
his reason, he fell asleep at once. His wholesome 

266 abe fUnfcrefc of tbe 

drowsiness, in that clear and vital air, was not to 
be denied. But once deep asleep, beyond the vacil- 
lation of ordered thought and the obstinacies of 
will, his sensitive intuitions reasserted themselves. 
They insisted sharply on his giving heed to their 
warnings; and all at once he found himself wide 
awake with not a vestige of sleep's heaviness left 
in his brain. 

With his trained woodcraft, however, he knew 
that it was some peril that had thus awakened him, 
and he gave no sign of his waking. Without a 
movement, without a change in his slow, deep 
breathing, he half opened his eyes and scanned the 
surrounding trees through narrowed lids. 

Presently he caught a glimmer of big, soft, 
round eyes gazing at him through a tangle of 
spruce boughs. Were they gazing at him? No, 
it was the fire that held their harmless attention. 
He guessed the owner of those soft eyes; and in 
a moment or two he was able to discern dimly 
the lines of the deer's head and neck. 

His first impulse was to laugh impatiently at his 
own folly. Had he been enduring all these creepy 
apprehensions because an inquisitive doe had fol- 
lowed him ? Had his nerves grown so sensitive that 
the staring of a chipmunk or a rabbit had power 

Ube Matcbers of tbe Camp*jftre 267 

to break his sleep ? But while these thoughts rushed 
through his brain his body lay still as before, obedi- 
ent to the subtle dictates of his instinct. His long 
study of the wild things had taught him much of 
their special wisdom. He swept his glance around 
the dim-lit aisle as far as he could without per- 
ceptibly turning his head and met the lambent 
blue-green gaze of the watching panther! 

Through the thin veil of the hemlock twigs, he 
saw the body of the animal, gathered for the 
spring, and realised with a pang that the long 
expected had not arrived in just the form he would 
have chosen. He knew better than to reach for 
his rifle, because he knew that the least move- 
ment of head or hand would be the signal for the 
launching of that fatal leap. There was nothing 
to do but wait, and keep motionless, and think. 

The strain of that waiting was unspeakable, and 
under it the minutes seemed hours. But just as 
he was beginning to think he could stand it no 
longer, a brand in the fire burned through and broke 
smartly. Flames leapt up, with a shower of sparks, 
and the panther, somewhat startled, drew back 
and shifted his gaze. It was but for an instant, 
but in that instant the man had laid hold of his rifle, 
drawn it to him, and got it into a position where 

268 ube lUn&re& ot tbe 

one more swift movement would enable him to 

But not the panther only had been startled by the 
breaking brand, the leaping flame. The young doe 
had leapt backward, so that a great birch trunk cut 
off her view of the fire. The first alarm gone by, 
she moved to recover her post of vantage. Very 
stealthily and silently she moved, but the motion 
caught the panther's eye. 

The man noted a change in the direction of the 
beast's gaze, a change in the light of his eye- 
balls. There was no more hate in them, no more 
doubt and dread; only hunger, and eager triumph. 
As softly as an owl's wings move through the 
coverts, the great beast drew back, and started to 
descend from the tree. He would go stalk deer, 
drink warm deer's blood, and leave the dangerous 
sleeper to his dreams. 

But the man considered. Panthers were indeed 
very few in New Brunswick, and undeniably inter- 
esting. But he loved the deer ; and to this particu- 
lar doe he felt that he perhaps owed his life. The 
debt should be paid in full. 

As the panther turned to slip down the trunk 
of the tree, the man sat up straight. He took 
careful but almost instantaneous aim, at a point 

TEbe Watcbers of tbe Campsite 269 

just behind the beast's fore-shoulder. At the report 
the great body fell limp, a huddled heap of fur and 
long bared fangs. The man sprang to his feet 
and stirred the camp-fire to a blaze. And the doe, 
her heart pounding with panic, her curiosity all 
devoured in consuming terror, went crashing off 
through the bushes. 

TOben Gwtliabt f alls on tbe Stump 

(HE wet, chill first of the spring, its black- 
ness made tender by the lilac wash of 
I the afterglow, lay upon the high, open 
stretches of the stump lots. The winter-whitened 
stumps, the sparse patches of juniper and bay just 
budding, the rough-mossed hillocks, the harsh 
boulders here and there up-thrusting from the soil, 
the swampy hollows wherein a coarse grass began 
to show green, all seemed anointed, as it were, to an 
ecstasy of peace by the chrism of that paradisal 
colour. Against the lucid immensity of the April 
sky the thin tops of five or six soaring ram-pikes 
aspired like violet flames. Along the skirts of the 
stump lots a fir wood reared a ragged-crested wall 
of black against the red amber of the horizon. 

Late that afternoon, beside a juniper thicket not 
far from the centre of the stump lots, a young black 
and white cow had given birth to her first calf. The 
little animal had been licked assiduously by the 


274 Ube Hin&refc or tbe THflilfc 

mother's caressing tongue till its colour began to 
show of a rich dark red. Now it had struggled 
to its feet, and, with its disproportionately long, 
thick legs braced wide apart, was beginning to 
nurse. Its blunt wet muzzle and thick lips tugged 
eagerly, but somewhat blunderingly as yet, at the 
unaccustomed teats; and its tail lifted, twitching 
with delight, as the first warm streams of mother 
milk went down its throat. It was a pathetically 
awkward, unlovely little figure, not yet advanced to 
that youngling winsomeness which is the heritage, 
to some degree and at some period, of the infancy 
of all the kindreds that breathe upon the earth. 
But to the young mother's eyes it was the most 
beautiful of things. With her head twisted far 
around, she nosed and licked its heaving flanks as 
it nursed ; and between deep, ecstatic breathings she 
uttered in her throat low murmurs, unspeakably 
tender, of encouragement and caress. The delicate 
but pervading flood of sunset colour had the effect 
of blending the ruddy-hued calf into the tones of 
the landscape; but the cow's insistent blotches of 
black and white stood out sharply, refusing to har- 
monise. The drench of violet light was of no avail 
to soften their staring contrasts. They made her 
vividly conspicuous across the whole breadth of the 

TClben Uwiliabt ffalls on tbe Stump Xots 275 

stump lots, to eyes that watched her from the forest 

The eyes that watched her long, fixedly, hun- 
grily were small and red. They belonged to a 
lank she-bear, whose gaunt flanks and rusty coat 
proclaimed a season of famine in the wilderness. 
She could not see the calf, which was hidden by 
a hillock and some juniper scrub; but its presence 
was very legibly conveyed to her by the mother's 
solicitous watchfulness. After a motionless scru- 
tiny from behind the screen of fir branches, the 
lean bear stole noiselessly forth from the shadows 
into the great wash of violet light. Step by step, 
and very slowly, with the patience that endures be- 
cause confident of its object, she crept toward that 
oasis of mothering joy in the vast emptiness of the 
stump lots. Now crouching, now crawling, turn- 
ing to this side and to that, taking advantage of 
every hollow, every thicket, every hillock, every 
aggressive stump, her craft succeeded in eluding 
even the wild and menacing watchfulness of the 
young mother's eyes. 

The spring had been a trying one for the lank 
she-bear. Her den, in a dry tract of hemlock wood 
some furlongs back from the stump lots, was a 
snug little cave under the uprooted base of a lone 

276 Ube ftinftret) ot tbe icuio 

pine, which had somehow grown up among the 
alien hemlocks only to draw down upon itself at 
last, by its superior height, the fury of a passing 
hurricane. The winter had contributed but scanty 
snowfall to cover the bear in her sleep; and the 
March thaws, unseasonably early and ardent, had 
called her forth to activity weeks too soon. Then 
frosts had come with belated severity, sealing 
away the budding tubers, which are the bear's chief 
dependence for spring diet; and worst of all, a 
long stretch of intervale meadow by the neighbour- 
ing river, which had once been rich in ground-nuts, 
had been ploughed up the previous spring and sub- 
jected to the producing of oats and corn. When 
she was feeling the pinch of meagre rations, and 
when the fat which a liberal autumn of blueberries 
had laid up about her ribs was getting as shrunken 
as the last snow in the thickets, she gave birth to 
two hairless and hungry little cubs. They were 
very blind, and ridiculously small to be born of 
so big a mother; and having so much growth to 
make during the next few months, their appetites 
were immeasurable. They tumbled, and squealed, 
and tugged at their mother's teats, and grew aston- 
ishingly, and made huge haste to cover their bodies 
with fur of a soft and silken black; and all this 

TRttben TTwfltabt jfalls on tbe Stump %ots 277 

vitality of theirs made a strenuous demand upon 
their mother's milk. There were no more bee- 
trees left in the neighbourhood. The long wander- 
ings which she was forced to take in her search for 
roots and tubers were in themselves a drain upon 
her nursing powers. At last, reluctant though she 
was to attract the hostile notice of the settlement, 
she found herself forced to hunt on the borders of 
the sheep pastures. Before all else in life was it 
important to her that these two tumbling little ones 
in the den should not go hungry. Their eyes were 
open now small and dark and whimsical, their 
ears quaintly large and inquiring for their roguish 
little faces. Had she not been driven by the unkind 
season to so much hunting and foraging, she would 
have passed near all her time rapturously in the 
den under the pine root, fondling those two soft 
miracles of her world. 

With the killing of three lambs at widely scat- 
tered points, so as to mislead retaliation things 
grew a little easier for the harassed bear ; and pres- 
ently she grew bolder in tampering with the crea- 
tures under man's protection. With one swift, 
secret blow of her mighty paw she struck down 
a young ewe which had strayed within reach of 
her hiding-place. Dragging her prey deep into 

278 Ube Itiufcret) of tbe TWUI& 

the woods, she fared well upon it for some days, 
and was happy with her growing cubs. It was 
just when she had begun to feel the fasting which 
came upon the exhaustion of this store that, in a 
hungry hour, she sighted the conspicuous markings 
of the black and white cow. 

It is altogether unusual for the black bear of 
the eastern woods to attack any quarry so large 
as a cow, unless under the spur of fierce hunger 
or fierce rage. The she-bear was powerful beyond 
her fellows. She had the strongest possible incen- 
tive to bold hunting, and she had lately grown con- 
fident beyond her wont. Nevertheless, when she 
began her careful stalking of this big game which 
she coveted, she had no definite intention of forcing 
a battle with the cow. She had observed that cows, 
accustomed to the protection of man, would at times 
leave their calves asleep and stray off some distance 
in their pasturing. She had even seen calves left 
all by themselves in a field, from morning till night, 
and had wondered at such negligence in their 
mothers. Now she had a confident idea that sooner 
or later the calf would lie down to sleep, and the 
young mother roam a little wide in search of the 
scant young grass. Very softly, very self-effacingly, 
she crept nearer step by step, following up the wind, 

TKflben tlwilfgbt jfalls on tbe Stump Xots 279 

till at last, undiscovered, she was crouching behind 
a thick patch of juniper, on the slope of a little 
hollow not ten paces distant from the cow and the 

By this time the tender violet light was fading 
to a grayness over hillock and hollow; and with 
the deepening of the twilight the faint breeze, which 
had been breathing from the northward, shifted 
suddenly and came in slow, warm pulsations out of 
the south. At the same time the calf, having nursed 
sufficiently, and feeling his baby legs tired of the 
weight they had not yet learned to carry, laid himself 
down. On this the cow shifted her position. She 
turned half round, and lifted her head high. As 
she did so a scent of peril was borne in upon her 
fine nostrils. She recognised it instantly. With 
a snort of anger she sniffed again; then stamped 
a challenge with her fore hoofs, and levelled the 
lance-points of her horns toward the menace. The 
next moment her eyes, made keen by the fear of 
love, detected the black outline of the bear's head 
through the coarse screen of the juniper. Without 
a second's hesitation, she flung up her tail, gave 
a short bellow, and charged. 

The moment she saw herself detected, the bear 
rose upon her hindquarters; nevertheless she was 

2 8o Ube frtnbret) of tbe TWUfo 

in a measure surprised by the sudden blind fury 
of the attack. Nimbly she swerved to avoid it, 
aiming at the same time a stroke with her mighty 
forearm, which, if it had found its mark, would 
have smashed her adversary's neck. But as she 
struck out, in the act of shifting her position, a 
depression of the ground threw her off her balance. 
The next instant one sharp horn caught her slant- 
ingly in the flank, ripping its way upward and 
inward, while the mad impact threw her upon her 

Grappling, she had her assailant's head and 
shoulders in a trap, and her gigantic claws cut 
through the flesh and sinew like knives; but at 
the desperate disadvantage of her position she 
could inflict no disabling blow. The cow, on the 
other hand, though mutilated and streaming with 
blood, kept pounding with her whole massive 
weight, and with short tremendous shocks crush- 
ing the breath from her foe's ribs. 

Presently, wrenching herself free, the cow drew 
off for another battering charge; and as she did 
so the bear hurled herself violently down the slope, 
and gained her feet behind a dense thicket of bay 
shrub. The cow, with one eye blinded and the 
other obscured by blood, glared around for her 

Wben Uwiligbt falls on tbe Stump Xots 283 

in vain, then, in a panic of mother terror, plunged 
back to her calf. 

Snatching at the respite, the bear crouched down, 
craving that invisibility which is the most faithful 
shield of the furtive kindred. Painfully, and 
leaving a drenched red trail behind her, she crept 
off from the disastrous neighbourhood. Soon the 
deepening twilight sheltered her. But she could 
not make haste ; and she knew that death was close 
upon her. 

Once within the woods, she struggled straight 
toward the den that held her young. She hungered 
to die licking them. But destiny is as implacable as 
iron to the wilderness people, and even this was 
denied her. Just a half score of paces from the lair 
in the pine root, her hour descended upon her. 
There was a sudden redder and fuller gush upon 
the trail; the last light of longing faded out of 
her eyes; and she lay down upon her side. 

The merry little cubs within the den were begin- 
ning to expect her, and getting restless. As the 
night wore on, and no mother came, they ceased to 
be merry. By morning they were shivering with 
hunger and desolate fear. But the doom of the 
ancient wood was less harsh than its wont, and 
spared them some days of starving anguish; for 

lttn&re& of tbe TWIU& 

about noon a pair of foxes discovered the dead 
mother, astutely estimated the situation, and then, 
with the boldness of good appetite, made their way 
into the unguarded den. 

As for the red calf, its fortune was ordinary. Its 
mother, for all her wounds, was able to nurse and 
cherish it through the night; and with morning 
came a searcher from the farm and took it, with 
the bleeding mother, safely back to the settlement. 
There it was tended and fattened, and within a 
few weeks found its way to the cool marble slabs 
of a city market. 

Iking of tbe 

the king of the Mamozekel barrens 
was born, he was one of the most un- 
gainly of all calves, a moose-calf. 
In the heart of a tamarack swamp, some leagues 
south from Nictau Mountain, was a dry little knoll 
of hardwood and pine undiscovered by the hunters, 
out of the track of the hunting beasts. Neither 
lynx, bear, nor panther had tradition of it. There 
was little succulent undergrowth to tempt the moose 
and the caribou. But there the wild plum each 
summer fruited abundantly, and there a sturdy 
brotherhood of beeches each autumn lavished their 
treasure of three-cornered nuts; and therefore the 
knoll was populous with squirrels and grouse. 
Nature, in one of those whims of hers by which 
she delights to confound the studious naturalist, had 
chosen to keep this spot exempt from the law of 
blood and fear which ruled the rest of her domains. 
To be sure, the squirrels would now and then play 

havoc with a nest of grouse eggs, or, in the absence 


288 Ubc Hfnoreo of tbe 

of their chisel-beaked parents, do murder on a nest 
of young golden-wings ; but, barring the outbreaks of 
these bright-eyed incorrigible marauders, bad 
to their very toes, and attractive to their plumy tail- 
tips, the knoll in the tamarack swamp was a 
haven of peace amid the fierce but furtive warfare 
of the wilderness. 

On this knoll, when the arbutus breath of the 
northern spring was scenting the winds of all the 
Tobique country, the king was born, a moose-calf 
more ungainly and of mightier girth and limb than 
any other moose-calf of the Mamozekel. Never 
had his mother seen such a one, and she a 
mother of lordly bulls. He was uncouth, to be sure, 
in any eyes but those of his kind, with his high 
humped fore-shoulders, his long, lugubrious, over- 
hanging snout, his big ears set low on his big 
head, his little eyes crowded back toward his ears, 
his long, big-knuckled legs, and the spindling, lank 
diminutiveness of his hindquarters. A grotesque 
figure, indeed, and lacking altogether in that pa- 
thetic, infantile winsomeness which makes even 
little pigs attractive. But any one who knew about 
moose would have said, watching the huge baby 
struggle to his feet and stand with sturdy legs well 
braced, " There, if bears and bullets miss him till 

Ube frtna ot tbe flDamosehel 289 

his antlers get full spread, is the king of the Mamo- 
zekel." Now, when his mother had licked him dry, 
his coat showed a dark, very sombre, cloudy, secre- 
tive brown, of a hue to be quite lost in the shadows 
of the fir and hemlock thickets, and to blend con- 
summately with the colour of the tangled alder 
trunks along the clogged banks of the Mamozekel. 
The young king's mother was perhaps the biggest 
and most morose cow on all the moose ranges of 
northern New Brunswick. She assuredly had no 
peer on the barrens of the upper Tobique country. 
She was also the craftiest. That was the reason 
why, though she was dimly known and had been 
blindly hunted all the way from Nictau Lake, over 
Mamozekel, and down to Blue Mountain on the 
main Tobique, she had never felt a bullet wound, 
and had come to be regarded by the backwoods 
hunters with something of a superstitious awe. It 
was of her craft, too, that she had found this knoll 
in the heart of the tamarack swamp, and had 
guarded the secret of it from the herds. Hither, 
at calving time, she would come by cunningly 
twisted trails. Here she would pass the perilous 
hours in safety, unharassed by the need of watching 
against her stealthy foes. And when once she had 
led her calf away from the retreat, she never re- 
turned to it, save alone, and in another year. 

290 ube Ifcinoreo of tbc TMUlfc 

For three days the great cow stayed upon the 
knoll, feeding upon the overhanging branch tips of 
mountain-ash and poplar. This was good fodder, 
for buds and twigs were swollen with sap, and succu- 
lent. In those three days her sturdy young calf 
made such gains in strength and stature that he 
would have passed in the herd for a calf of two 
weeks' growth. In mid-afternoon of the third day 
she led the way down from the knoll and out across 
the quaking glooms of the tamarack swamp. And 
the squirrels in the budding branches chattered shrill 
derision about their going. 

The way led through the deepest and most per- 
ilous part of the swamp; but the mother knew the 
safe trail in all its windings. She knew where the 
yielding surface of moss with black pools on either 
side was not afloat on fathomless ooze, but sup- 
ported by solid earth or a framework of ancient 
tree roots. She shambled onward at a very rapid 
walk, which forced the gaunt calf at her heels to 
break now and then into the long-striding, tireless 
trot which is the heritage of his race. 

For perhaps an hour they travelled. Then, in 
a little, partly open glade where the good sound 
earth rose up sweet from the morass, and the moun- 
tain-ash, the viburnum, and the moose-wood grew 

tTbe Irtna of tbe flDamosefcel 29* 

thinly, and the ground was starred with spring 
blooms, painted trillium and wake-robin, clay- 
tonia and yellow dog-tooth and wind-flower, they 
stopped. The calf, tired from his first journeying, 
nursed fiercely, twitching his absurd stub of a tail, 
butting at his mother's udder with such discomfort- 
ing eagerness that she had to rebuke him by stepping 
aside and interrupting his meal. After several 
experiences of this kind he took the hint, and put 
curb upon his too robust impatience. The masterful 
spirit of a king is liable to inconvenience its owner 
if exercised prematurely. 

By this time the pink light of sunset was begin- 
ning to stain the western curves of branch and stem 
and bud, changing the spring coolness of the place 
into a delicate riot of fairy colour and light, inter- 
volving form. Some shadows deepened, while 
others disappeared. Certain leaves and blossoms 
and pale limbs stood out with a clearness almost 
startling, suddenly emphasised by the level rays, 
while others faded from view. Though there was 
no wind, the changed light gave an effect of noise- 
less movement in the glade. And in the midst of 
this gathering enchantment the mother moose set 
herself to forage for her own meal. 

Selecting a slim young birch-tree, whose top was 

29 2 tlbe fUnfcreo of tbe 

thick with twigs and greening buds, she pushed 
against it with her massive chest till it bent nearly 
to the ground. Then straddling herself along it, 
she held it down securely between her legs, moved 
forward till the succulent top was within easy 
reach, and began to browse with leisurely jaws and 
selective Teachings out of her long, discriminating 
upper lip. The calf stood close by, watching with 
interest, his legs sympathetically spread apart, his 
head swung low from his big shoulders, his great 
ears swaying slowly backward and forward, not 
together, but one at a time. When the mother had 
finished feeding, there were no buds, twigs or small 
branches left on the birch sapling; and the sunset 
colours had faded out of the glade. With dusk 
a chilly air breathed softly through the trees, and 
the mother led the way into a clump of thick balsam 
firs near the edge of the good ground. In the heart 
of the thicket she lay down for the night, facing 
away from the wind ; and the calf, quick in percep- 
tion as in growth, lay down close beside her in the 
same position. He did not know at the time the 
significance of the position, but he had a vague sense 
of its importance. He was afterward to learn that 
enemies were liable to approach his lair in the night, 
and that as long as he slept with his back to the 


TTbe TkinQ of tbe flDamosefeel 295 

wind, he could not be taken unawares. The wind 
might be trusted to bring to his marvellous nostrils 
timely notice of danger from the rear; while he 
could depend upon his eyes and his spacious, sensi- 
tive, unsleeping ears to warn him of anything as- 
cending against the wind to attack him in front. 

At the very first suggestion of morning the two 
light sleepers arose. In the dusk of the fir thicket 
the hungry calf made his meal. Then they came 
forth into the grayness of the spectral spring dawn, 
and the great cow proceeded as before to breast 
down a birch sapling for fodder. Before the sun 
was fairly up, they left the glade and resumed their 
journey across the swamp. 

It was mid-morning of a sweet-aired, radiant 
day when they emerged from the swamp. Now, 
through a diversified country of thick forests and 
open levels, the mother moose swung forward on an 
undeviating trail, perceptible only to herself. Pres- 
ently the land began to dip. Then a little river 
appeared, winding through innumerable alders, with 
here and there a pond-like expansion full of young 
lily-leaves; and the future king of the Mamozekel 
looked upon his kingdom. But he did not recognise 
it. He cared nothing for the little river of alders. 
He was tired, and very hungry, and the moment 
his mother halted he ran up and nursed vehemently. 

296 Ube fUnoreo of tbe TDQIU& 


Delicately filming with the first green, and spicy- 
fragrant, were the young birch-trees on the slopes 
about the Mamozekel water. From tree-top to 
tree-top, across the open spaces, the rain-birds called 
to each other with long falls of melody and sweetly 
insistent iteration. In their intervals of stillness, 
which came from time to time as if by some secret 
and preconcerted signal, the hush was beaded, as 
it were, with the tender and leisurely staccatos of 
the chickadees. The wild kindreds of the Tobique 
country were all happily busy with affairs of spring. 

While the great cow was pasturing on birch- 
twigs, the calf rested, with long legs tucked under 
him, on the dry, softly carpeted earth beneath the 
branches of a hemlock. At this pleasant pasturage 
the mother moose was presently joined by her calf 
of the previous season, a sturdy bull-yearling, which 
ran up to her with a pathetic little bleat of delight, 
as if he had been very desolate and bewildered 
during the days of her strange absence. The 
mother received him with good-natured indifference, 
and went on pulling birch-tips. Then the yearling 
came over and eyed with curiosity the resting calf, 
the first moose-calf he had ever seen. The king. 

"King of tbe flDamosefcel 297 

unperturbed and not troubling himself to rise, 
thrust forward his spacious ears, and reached out 
a long inquiring nose to investigate the newcomer. 
But the yearling was in doubt. He drew back, 
planted his fore hoofs firmly, and lowered and 
shook his head, challenging the stranger to a butting 
bout. The old moose, which had kept wary eye upon 
the meeting, now came up and stood over her young, 
touching him once or twice lightly with her upper 
lip. Then, swinging her great head to one side, she 
glanced at the yearling, and made a soft sound in 
her throat. Whether this were warning or mere per- 
tinent information, the yearling understood that his 
smaller kinsman was to be let alone, and not troub- 
led with challenges. With easy philosophy, he 
accepted the situation, doubtless not concerned to 
understand it, and turned his thoughts to the ever 
fresh theme of forage. 

Through the spring and summer the little family 
of three fed never far from the Mamozekel stream ; 
and the king grew with astonishing speed. Of 
other moose families they saw little, for the mother, 
jealous and overbearing in her strength, would tol- 
erate no other cows on her favourite range. Some- 
times they saw a tall bull, with naked forehead, 
come down to drink or to pull lily-stems in the 

'9* be ftitrtreb ot tbe Wttt> 

still pools at sunset. But the bull, feeling him- 
self discrowned and unlordly in the absence of his 
antlers, paid no attention to either cows or calves. 
While waiting for autumn to restore to his forehead 
its superb palmated adornments, he was haughty 
and seclusive. 

By the time summer was well established in the 
land, the moose-calf had begun to occupy himself 
diligently with the primer-lessons of life. Keeping 
much at his mother's head, he soon learned to pluck 
the tops of tall seeding grasses; though such low- 
growing tender herbage as cattle and horses love, 
he never learned to crop. His mother, like all his 
tribe, was too long in the legs and short in the neck 
to pasture close to the ground. He was early taught, 
however, what succulent pasturage of root and stem 
and leaf the pools of Mamozekel could supply; and 
early his sensitive upper lip acquired the wisdom 
to discriminate between the wholesome water-plants 
and such acrid, unfriendly growths as the water- 
parsnip and the spotted cowbane. Most pleasant 
the little family found it, in the hot, drowsy after- 
noons, to wade out into the leafy shallows and 
feed at leisure belly-deep in the cool, with no sound 
save their own comfortable splashings, or the shrill 
clatter of a kingfisher winging past up-stream. 

frtng of tbe ADamoseftel 199 

Their usual feeding hours were just before sunrise, 
a little before noon, and again in the late afternoon, 
till dark. The rest of the time they would lie hidden 
in the deepest thickets, safe, but ever watchful, their 
great ears taking in and interpreting all the myriad 
fluctuating noises of the wilderness. 

The hours of foraging were also for the 
young king, in particular, whose food was mostly 
provided by his mother the hours of lesson and 
the hours of play. In the pride of his growing 
strength he quickly developed a tendency to butt 
at everything and test his prowess. His yearling 
brother was always ready to meet his desires in this 
fashion, and the two would push against each other 
with much grunting, till at last the elder, growing 
impatient, would thrust the king hard back upon his 
haunches, and turn aside indifferently to his brows- 
ing. Little by little it became more difficult for the 
yearling to close the bout in this easy way; but 
he never guessed that in no distant day the contests 
would end in a very different manner. He did 
not know that, for a calf of that same spring, his 
lightly tolerated playfellow was big and strong 
and audacious beyond all wont of the wide-antlered 

The young king was always athrill with curiosity, 

300 zrbe Ikinorefc of tbe 

full of interest in all the wilderness folk that 
chanced to come in his view. The shyest of the 
furtive creatures were careless about letting him 
see them, both his childishness and his race being 
guarantee of good will. Very soon, therefore, he 
became acquainted, in a distant, uncomprehending 
fashion, with the hare and the mink, the wood- 
mouse and the muskrat; while the mother mallard 
would float amid her brood within a yard or two of 
the spot where he was pulling at the water-lilies. 

One day, however, he came suddenly upon a por- 
cupine which was crossing a bit of open ground, 
came upon it so suddenly that the surly little beast 
was startled and rolled himself up into a round, 
bristling ball. This was a strange phenomenon 
indeed ! He blew upon the ball, two or three hard 
noisy breaths from wide nostrils. Then he was 
so rash as to thrust at it, tentatively rather than 
roughly, with his inquisitive nose, for he was 
most anxious to know what it meant. There was 
a quiver in the ball; and he jumped back, shaking 
his head, with two of the sharp spines sticking in 
his sensitive upper lip. 

In pain and fright, yet with growing anger, he 
ran to his mother where she was placidly cropping 
a willow-top. But she was not helpful. She knew 


Ube Hing ot tbe /IDamosefeel 303 

nothing 1 of the properties of porcupine quills. See- 
ing what was the matter, she set the example of 
rubbing her nose smartly against a stump. The 
king did likewise. Now, for burrs, this would 
have been all very well ; but porcupine quills the 
malignant little intruders throve under such treat- 
ment, and worked their way more deeply into the 
tender tissues. Smarting and furious, the young 
monarch rushed back with the purpose of stamping 
that treacherous ball of spines to fragments under 
his sharp hoofs. But the porcupine, meanwhile, 
had discreetly climbed a tree, whence it looked 
down with scornful red eyes, bristling its barbed 
armory, and daring the angry calf to come up and 
fight. For days thereafter the young king suffered 
from a nose so hot and swollen that it was hard 
for him to browse, and almost impossible for him 
to nurse. Then came relief, as the quills worked 
their way through, one dropping out, and the other 
getting chewed up with a lily-root. But the young 
moose never forgot his grudge against the porcu- 
pine family; and catching one, years after, in a 
poplar sapling, he bore the sapling down and trod 
his enemy to bits. In his wrath, however, he did 
not forget the powers and properties of the quills. 
He took good care that none should pierce the 
tender places of his feet. 

304 Ube frtufcreo of tbe TKIlflo 

Some weeks after his meeting with the porcupine, 
when his nose and his spirits together had quite 
recovered, he made a new acquaintance. The moose 
family had by this time worked much farther up 
the Mamozekel, into a region of broken ground, and 
steep up-thrusts of rock. One day, while investi- 
gating the world at a little distance from his mother 
and brother, he saw a large, curious-looking animal 
at the top of a rocky slope. It was a light brown- 
gray in colour, with a big, round face, high-tufted 
ears, round, light, cold eyes, long whiskers brushed 
back from under its chin, very long, sharp teeth 
displayed in its snarlingly open jaws, and big round 
pads of feet. The lynx glared at the young king, 
scornfully unacquainted with his kingship. And the 
young king stared at the lynx with lively, unhostile 
interest. Then the lynx cast a wary glance all 
about, saw no sign of the mother moose (who was 
feeding on the other side of the rock), concluded 
that this was such an opportunity as he had long 
been looking for, and began creeping swiftly, 
stealthily, noiselessly, down the slope of rocks. 

Any other moose-calf, though of thrice the young 
king's months, would have run away. But not so 
he. The stranger seemed unfriendly. He would 
try a bout of butting with him. He stamped his 

ttbe iking of tbe flDamo3efcel 305 

feet, shook his lowered head, snorted, and advanced 
a stride or two. At the same time, he uttered a 
harsh, very abrupt, bleating cry of defiance, the 
infantile precursor of what his mighty, forest- 
daunting bellow was to be in later years. The lynx, 
though he well knew that this ungainly youngster 
could not withstand his onslaught for a moment, 
was nevertheless astonished by such a display of 
spirit; and he paused for a moment to consider 
it. Was it possible that unguessed resources lay 
behind this daring? He would see. 

It was a critical moment. A very few words 
more would have sufficed for the conclusion of this 
chronicle, but for the fact that the young king's 
bleat of challenge had reached other ears than those 
of the great lynx. The old moose, at her pasturing 
behind the rock, heard it too. Startled and anxious, 
she came with a rush to find out what it meant ; and 
the yearling, full of curiosity, came at her heels. 
When she saw the lynx, the long hair on her neck 
stood up with fury, and with a roar she launched 
her huge, dark bulk against him. But for such an 
encounter the big cat had no stomach. He knew 
that he would be pounded into paste in half a minute. 
With a snarl, he sprang backward, as if his muscles 
had been steel springs suddenly loosed ; and before 

36 Ube lUnoreo of tbe TKflilb 

his assailant was half-way up the slope, he was 
glaring down upon her from the safe height of 
a hemlock limb. 

This, to the young king, seemed a personal vic- 
tory. The mother's efforts to make him understand 
that lynxes were dangerous had small effect upon 
him; and the experience advanced him not at all 
in his hitherto unlearned lesson of fear. 

Even he, however, for all his kingly heart, was 
destined to learn that lesson, was destined to 
have it so seared into his spirit that the remem- 
brance should, from time to time, unnerve, humili- 
ate, defeat him, through half the years of his 

It came about in this way, one blazing August 

The old moose and the yearling were at rest, 
comfortably chewing the cud in a spruce covert 
close to the water. But the king was in one of 
those restless fits which, all through his calfhood, 
kept driving him forward in quest of experience. 
The wind was almost still; but such as there was 
blew up stream. Up against it he wandered for 
a little way, and saw nothing but a woodchuck, 
which was a familiar sight to him. Then he turned 
and drifted carelessly down the wind. Having 

frtng of tbe flDamosefeel 37 

passed the spruce thicket, his nostrils received mes- 
sages from his mother and brother in their quiet con- 
cealment. The scent was companion to him, and he 
wandered on. Presently it faded away from the 
faintly pulsing air. Still he went on. 

Presently he passed a huge, half-decayed wind- 
fall, thickly draped in shrubbery and vines. No 
sooner had he passed than the wind brought him 
from this dense hiding-place a pungent, unfamiliar 
scent. There was something ominous in the smell, 
something at which his heart beat faster; but he 
was not afraid. He stopped at once, and moved 
back slowly toward the windfall, sniffing with 
curiosity, his ears alert, his eyes striving to pierce 
the mysteries of the thicket. 

He moved close by the decaying trunk without 
solving the enigma. Then, as the wind puffed a 
thought more strongly, he passed by and lost the 
scent. At once he swung about to pursue the 
investigation; and at the same instant an intuitive 
apprehension of peril made him shudder, and shrink 
away from the windfall. 

He turned not an instant too soon. What he 
saw was a huge, black, furry head and shoulders 
leaning over the windfall, a huge black paw, with 
knife-like claws, lifting for a blow that would break 

308 ttbe l&infcrefc of tbe 

his back like a bulrush. He was already moving, 
already turning, and with his muscles gathered. 
That saved him. Quick as a flash of light he 
sprang, wildly. Just as quickly, indeed, came down 
the stroke of those terrific claws. But they fell 
short of their intended mark. As the young moose 
sprang into the air, the claws caught him slantingly 
on the haunch. They went deep, ripping hide and 
flesh almost to the bone, a long, hideous wound. 
Before the blow could be repeated, the calf was 
far out of reach, bleating with pain and terror. The 
bear, much disappointed, peered after him with little 
red, malicious eyes, and greedily licked the sweet 
blood from his claws. 

The next instant the mother moose burst from her 
thicket, the long hair of her neck and shoulders 
stiffly erect with rage. She had understood well 
enough that agonised cry of the young king. She 
paused but a second, to give him a hasty lick of 
reassurance, then charged down upon the covert 
around the windfall. She knew that only a bear 
could have done that injury; and she knew, without 
any help from ears, eyes, or nose, that the windfall 
was just the place for a bear's lying-in-wait. With 
an intrepidity beyond the boldest dreams of any 
other moose-cow on the MamozekeL she launched 
herself crashing into the covert. 


Ube frtna of tbe jflDamojefeel 3" 

But her avenging fury found no bear to meet 
it. The bear knew well this mighty moose-cow, 
having watched her from many a hiding-place, and 
shrewdly estimated her prowess. He had effaced 
himself, melting away through the underwood as 
noiselessly and swiftly as a weasel. Plenty of 
the strong bear scent the old moose found in the 
covert, and it stung her to frenzy. She stamped 
and tore down the vines, and sent the rotten wood 
of the windfall flying in fragments. Then she 
emerged, powdered with debris, and roared and 
glared about for the enemy. But the wily bear was 
already far away, well burdened with discretion. 


In a few weeks the king's healthy flesh, assidu- 
ously licked by his mother, healed perfectly, leaving 
long, hairless scars upon his hide, which turned, 
in course of time, from livid to a leaden whitish hue. 
But while his flesh healed perfectly, his spirit was 
in a different case. Thenceforward, one great fear 
lurked in his heart, ready to leap forth at any 
instant the fear of the bear. It was the only 
fear he knew, but it was a terrible one; and when, 
two months later, he again caught that pungent 
scent in passing a thicket, he ran madly for an hour 

tTbe 1tfn&re& of tbe THttflfc 

before he recovered his wits and stole back, humili- 
ated and exhausted, to his mother's pasture-grounds. 

In the main, however, he was soon his old, bold, 
investigating self, his bulk and his sagacity growing 
vastly together. Ere the first frosts had crimsoned 
the maples and touched the birches to a shimmer of 
pale gold, he could almost hold his own by sheer 
strength against his yearling brother's weight, and 
sometimes, for a minute or two, worst him by feint 
and strategy. When he came, by chance, in the 
crisp, free-roving weather of the fall, upon other 
moose-calves of that year's birth, they seemed 
pygmies beside him, and gave way to him respect- 
fully as to a yearling. 

About this time he experienced certain qualms of 
loneliness, which bewildered him and took much 
of the interest out of life. His mother began to 
betray an unexpected indifference, and his childish 
heart missed her caresses. He was not driven away, 
but he was left to himself; while she would stride 
up and down the open, gravelly meadows by the 
water, sniffing the air, and at times uttering a 
short, harsh roar which made him eye her uneasily. 
One crisp night, when the round October moon 
wrought magic in the wilderness, he heard his 
mother's call answered by a terrific, roaring bellow, 

trbe IfcinQ of tbe flDamoseftel 3*3 

which made his heart leap. Then there was a crash- 
ing through the underbrush; and a tall bull strode 
forth into the light, his antlers spreading like oak 
branches from either side of his forehead. Pru- 
dence, or deference, or a mixture of the two, led 
the young king to lay aside his wonted inquisitive- 
ness and withdraw into the thickets without attract- 
ing the notice of this splendid and formidable visi- 
tor. During the next few days he saw the big bull 
very frequently, and found himself calmly ignored. 
Prudence and deference continued their good offices, 
however, and he was careful not to trespass on the 
big stranger's tolerance during those wild, mad, 
magical autumn days. 

One night, about the middle of October, the king 
saw from his thicket a scene which filled him with 
excitement and awe, swelled his veins almost to 
bursting, and made his brows ache, as if the antlers 
were already pushing to birth beneath the skin. It 
all came about in this fashion. His mother, stand- 
ing out in the moonlight by the water, had twice 
with outstretched muzzle uttered her call, when it 
was answered not only by her mate, the tall bull, 
approaching along the shore, but by another great 
voice from up the hillside. Instantly the tall bull 
was in a rage. He rushed up to the cow, touched 

Ube lrtn&ret> of tbc 

her with his nose, and then, after a succession of 
roars which were answered promptly from the hill- 
side, he moved over to the edge of the open and 
began thrashing the bushes with his antlers. A 
great crashing of underbrush arose some distance 
away, and drew near swiftly ; and in a few minutes 
another bull burst forth violently into the open. 
He was young and impetuous, or he would have 
halted a moment before leaving cover, and stealthily 
surveyed the situation. But not yet had years and 
overthrows taught him the ripe moose wisdom ; and 
with a reckless heart he committed himself to the 

The newcomer had barely the chance to see 
where he was, before the tall bull was upon him. 
He wheeled in time, however, and got his guard 
down; but was borne back upon his haunches by 
the terrific shock of the charge. In a moment or 
two he recovered the lost ground, for youth had 
given him strength, if not wisdom; and the tall 
bull, his eyes flame-red with wrath, found himself 
fairly matched by this shorter, stockier antagonist.! 

The night forthwith became tempestuous with 
gruntings, bellowings, the hard clashing of antlers, 
the stamping of swift and heavy feet. The thin 
turf was torn up. The earthy gravel was sent flying 

of tbe fl&amosehel 315 

from the furious hoofs. From his covert the young 
king strained eager eyes upon the fight, his sympa- 
thies all with the tall bull whom he had regarded 
reverently from the first moment he saw him. But 
as for the cow, she moved up from the waterside 
and looked on with a fine impartiality. What con- 
cerned her was chiefly that none but the bravest 
and strongest should be her mate, a question 
which only fighting could determine. Her favour 
would go with victory. 

As it appeared, the rivals were fairly matched 
in vigour and valour. But among moose, as 
among men, brains count in the end. When the 
tall bull saw that, in a matter of sheer brawn, the 
sturdy stranger might hold him, he grew disgusted 
at the idea of settling such a vital question by mere 
butting and shoving. The red rage faded in his 
eyes, and a colder light took its place. On a sudden, 
when his foe had given a mighty thrust, he yielded, 
slipped his horns from the lock, and jumped nimbly 
aside. The stranger lunged forward, almost stum- 
bling to his knees. 

This was the tall bull's opportunity. In a whirl- 
wind of fury he thrust upon the enemy's flank, 
goring him, and bearing him down. The latter, 
being short and quick-moving, recovered his feet 

316 ttbe Itfnoreo of tbe Wilo 

in a second, and wheeled to present his guard. But 
the tall bull was quick to maintain the advantage. 
He, too, had shifted ground; and now he caught 
his antagonist in the rear. There was no resisting 
such an attack. With hind legs weakly doubling 
under him, with the weight of doom descending 
upon his defenceless rump, the rash stranger was 
thrust forward, bellowing madly, and striving in 
vain to brace himself. His humiliation was com- 
plete. With staring eyes and distended nostrils he 
was hustled across the meadow and over* the edge, 
of the bank. With a huge splash, and carrying with 
him a shower of turf and gravel, he fell into the 
stream. Once in the water, and his courage well 
cooled, he did not wait for a glance at his snorting 
and stamping conqueror on the bank above, but 
waded desperately across, dripping, bleeding, 
crushed in spirit, and vanished into the woods. 
In the thicket, the king's heart swelled as if the 
victory had been his own. 

By and by, when the last of the leaves had flut- 
tered down with crisp whisperings from the birch 
and ash, maple and poplar, and the first enduring 
snows were beginning to change the face of the 
world, the tall bull seemed to lay aside his haughti- 
ness. He grew carelessly good-natured toward the 

Ube Ifcino of tbe /IDamo3efcel 317 

young king and the yearling, and frankly took 
command of the little herd. As the snow deepened, 
he led the way northward toward the Nictau Lake 
and chose winter quarters on the wooded southward 
slopes of Bald Mountain, where there were hemlock 
groves for shelter and an abundance of young hard- 
wood growth for browsing. 

This leisurely migration was in the main unevent- 
ful, and left but one sharp impression on the young 
king's memory. On a wintry morning, when the 
sunrise was reaching long pink-saffron fingers 
across the thin snow, a puff of wind brought with 
it from a tangle of stumps and rocks a breath of 
that pungent scent so hateful to a moose's nostrils. 
The whole herd stopped; and the young king, his 
knees quaking under him and his eyes staring with 
panic, crowded close against his mother's flank. 
The tall bull stamped and bellowed his defiance to 
the enemy, but the enemy, being discreet, made 
no reply whatever. It is probable, indeed, that 
he was preparing his winter quarters, and getting 
too drowsy to hear or heed the angry challenge; 
but if he did hear it no doubt he noiselessly with- 
drew himself till the dangerous travellers had gone 
by. In a few minutes the herd resumed its march, 
the king keeping close to his mother's side, 
instead of in his proper place in the line. 

3*8 ^be iktnoreo of tbe 

The big-antlered bull now chose his site for the 
" yard," with " verge and room enough " for all 
contingencies. The " yard " was an ample acreage 
of innumerable winding paths, trodden ever deeper 
as the snows accumulated. These paths led to every 
spot of browse, every nook of shelter, at the same 
time twisting and crossing in a maze of intricacies. 
Thick piled the snows about the little herd, and the 
northern gales roared over the hemlocks, and the 
frost sealed the white world down into silence. But 
It was such a winter as the moose kin loved. No 
wolves or hunters came to trouble them, and the 
months passed pleasantly. When the days were 
lengthening and the hearts of all the wild folk 
beginning to dream of the yet unsignalled spring, 
the young king was astonished to see the great 
antlers of his leader fall off. Seeing that their 
owner left them lying unregarded on the snow, he 
went up and sniffed at them wonderingly, and pon- 
dered the incident long and vainly in his heart. 

When the snows shrank away, departing with 
a sound of many waters, and spring returned to 
the Tobique country, the herd broke up. First 
the dis-antlered bull drifted off on his own affairs. 
Then the two-year-old went, with no word of reason 
or excuse. Though a well-grown young bull, he 


Hbe Ikina of tbe flDamosefoel 321 

was now little larger or heavier than the king; and 
the king was now a yearling, with the stature and 
presence of a two-year-old. In a playful butting 
contest, excited by the joy of life which April put 
into their veins, he worsted his elder brother; and 
this, perhaps, though taken in good part, hastened 
the latter's going. 

A few days later the old cow grew restless. She 
and the king turned their steps backward toward 
the Mamozekel, feeding as they went. Soon they 
found themselves in their old haunts, which the 
king remembered very well. Then one day, while 
the king slept without suspicion of evil, the old 
cow slipped away stealthily, and sought her secret 
refuge in the heart of the cedar swamp. When 
th king awoke, he found himself alone in the 

All that day he was most unhappy. For some 
hours he could not eat, but strayed hither and 
thither, questing and wondering. Then, when 
hunger drove him to browse on the tender birch- 
twigs, he would stop every minute or two to call 
in his big, gruff, pathetic bleat, and look around 
eagerly for an answer. No answer came from the 
deserting mother, by this time far away in the 
swamp. . 

322 Ube Htnoreo of tbe TKIUlo 

But there were ears in the wilderness that heard 
and heeded the call of the desolate yearling. A 
pair of hunting lynxes paused at the sound, licked 
their chops, and crept forward with a green light 
in their wide, round eyes. 

Their approach was noiseless as thought, but 
the king, on a sudden, felt a monition of their 
coming. Whirling sharply about, he saw them 
lurking in the underbrush. He recognised the 
breed. This was the same kind of creature which 
he had been ready to challenge in his first calfhood. 
No doubt, it would have been more prudent for 
him to withdraw ; but he was in no mood for con- 
cession. His sore heart made him ill-tempered. 
His lonely bleat became a bellow of wrath. He 
stamped the earth, shook his head as if thrashing 
the underbrush with imaginary antlers, and then 
charged madly upon the astonished cats. This was 
no ordinary moose-calf, they promptly decided ; and 
in a second they were speeding away with great 
bounds, gray shadows down the gray vistas of the 
wood. The king glared after them for a mo- 
ment, and then went back to his feeding, greatly 

It was four days before his mother came back, 
bringing a lank calf at her heels. He was glad to 

"Ring of tbe flDamoaefeel 323 

see her, and contentedly renewed the companionship ; 
but in those four days he had learned full self- 
reliance, and his attitude was no longer that of 
the yearling calf. It had become that of the equal. 
As for the lank little newcomer, he viewed it with 
careless complaisance, and no more dreamed of 
playing with it than if it had been a frog or a 

The summer passed with little more event for 
the king than his swift increase in stature. One 
lesson then learned, however, though but vaguely 
comprehended at the time, was to prove of incal- 
culable value in after years. He learned to shun 
man, not with fear, indeed, for he never learned 
to fear anything except bears, but with aversion, 
and a certain half-disdainful prudence. It was as 
if he came to recognise in man the presence of 
powers which he was not anxious to put to trial, 
lest he should be forced to doubt his own supremacy. 

It was but a slight incident that gave him the 
beginning of this valuable wisdom. As he lay rumi- 
nating one day beside his mother and the gaunt 
calf, in a spruce covert near the water, a strange 
scent was wafted in to his nostrils. It carried with 
it a subtle warning. His mother touched him with 
her nose, conveying a silent yet eloquent monition, 

324 Ube fUnfcrefc of tbe WU& 

and got upon her feet with no more sound than if 
she had been compact of thistle-down. From their 
thicket shelter the three stared forth, moveless and 
unwinking, ears forward, nostrils wide. Then a 
canoe with two men came into view, paddling lazily, 
and turning to land. To the king, they looked not 
dangerous ; but every detail of them their shape, 
motion, colour, and, above all, their ominous scent 
stamped itself in his memory. Then, to his great 
surprise, his mother silently signalled the gravest 
and most instant menace, and forthwith faded back 
through the thicket with inconceivably stealthy 
motion. The king and the calf followed with like 
care, the king, though perplexed, having faith 
in his mother's wise woodcraft. Not until they had 
put good miles between themselves and strange- 
smelling newcomers did the old moose call a halt; 
and from all this precaution the king realised that 
the mysterious strangers were something to be 
avoided by moose. 

That summer the king saw nothing more of the 
man-creatures, and he crossed the scent of no 
more bears. His great heart, therefore, found no 
check to its growing arrogance and courage. When 
the month of the falling leaves and the whirring 
partridge-coveys again came round, he felt a new 

Ube Icing of tbc flDamosefcel 3*5 

pugnacity swelling in his veins, and found himself 
uttering challenges, he knew not why, with his yet 
half infantile bellow. When, at length, his mother 
began to pace the open meadow by the Mamozekel, 
and startle the moonlit silences with her mating 
call, he was filled with strange anger. But this 
was nothing to his rage when the calls were an- 
swered by a wide-antlered bull. This time the king 
refused to slink obsequiously to cover. He waited 
in the open; and he eyed the new wooer in a 
fashion so truculent that at length he attracted 

For his dignity, if not for his experience, this 
was most unfortunate. The antlered stranger noted 
his size, his attitude of insolence, and promptly 
charged upon him. He met the charge, in his insane 
audacity, but was instantly borne down. As he 
staggered to his feet he realised his folly, and 
turned to withdraw, not in terror, but in ac- 
knowledgment of superior strength. Such a dig- 
nified retreat, however, was not to be allowed him. 
The big bull fell upon him again, prodding him 
cruelly. He was hustled ignominiously across the 
meadow, and into the bushes. Thence he fled, 
bleating with impotent wrath and shame. 

In his humiliation he fled far down along the river, 

326 ZTbe Kinoreo of tbe 

through alder swamps which he had never traversed, 
by pools in which he had never pulled the lilies. 
Onward he pressed, intent on placing irrevocably 
behind him the scene of his chagrin. 

At length he came out upon the fair river basin 
where the Mamozekel, the Serpentine, and the 
Nictau, tameless streams, unite to form the main 
Tobique. Here he heard the call of a young cow, 
a voice thinner and higher than his mother's 
deep-chested notes. With an impulse which he did 
not understand, he pushed forward to answer the 
summons, no longer furtive, but noisily trampling 
the brush. Just then, however, a pungent smell 
stung his nostrils. There, not ten paces distant, was 
a massive black shape standing out in the moonlight. 
Panic laid grip upon his heart, chilling every vein. 
He wheeled, splashed across the shallow waters of 
the Nictau, and fled away northward on tireless feet. 

That winter the king yarded alone, like a morose 
old bull, far from his domain of the Mamozekel. 
In the spring he came back, but restricted his range 
to the neighbourhood of the Forks. And he saw 
his mother no more. 

That summer he grew his first antlers. As 
antlers, indeed, they were no great thing; but 
they started out bravely, a massive cylindrical bar 

luna of tbe flDamosefcel 327 

thrusting forth laterally, unlike the pointing horns 
of deer and caribou, from either side of his forehead. 
For all this sturdy start, their spiking and palmation 
did not amount to much; but he was inordinately 
proud of them, rubbing off the velvet with care 
when it began to itch, and polishing assiduously at 
the hardened horn. By the time the October moon 
had come round again to the Tobique country, he 
counted these first antlers a weapon for any en- 
counter ; and, indeed, with his bulk and craft behind 
them, they were formidable. 

It was not long before they were put to the test. 
One night, as he stood roaring and thrashing the 
bushes on the bluff overlooking the Forks, he heard 
the call of a young cow a little way down the shore. 
Gladly he answered. Gladly he sped to the tryst. 
Strange ecstasies, the madness of the night spell, and 
the white light's sorcery made his heart beat and 
his veins run sweet fire. But suddenly all this 
changed; for another roar, a taunting challenge, 
answered him; and another bull broke from covert 
on the other side of the sandy level where stood 
the young cow coquettishly eyeing both wooers. 

The new arrival was much older than the king, 
and nobly antlered; but in matter of inches the 
young king was already his peer. In craft, arro- 

328 zrbe frtufcrefc of tbc KHU& 

gance, and self-confident courage the king had an 
advantage that outweighed the deficiency in antlers. 
The fury of his charge spelled victory from the 
first; and though the battle was prolonged, the 
issue was decided at the outset, as the interested 
young cow soon perceived. In about a half-hour 
it was all over. The wise white moon of the 
wilderness looked down understandingly upon the 
furrowed sandspit, the pleased young cow, and the 
king making diffident progress with his first wooing. 
Some distance down the river-bank, she caught 
glimpses of the other bull, whose antlers had not 
saved him, fleeing in shame, with bleeding flanks 
and neck, through the light-patched shadows of the 


During the next four years the king learned to 
grow such antlers as had never before been seen in all 
the Tobique country. So tall, impetuous, and mas- 
terful he grew, that the boldest bulls, recognising the 
vast reverberations of his challenge, would smother 
their wrath and slip noiselessly away from his neigh- 
bourhood. Rumours of his size and his great antlers 
in some way got abroad among the settlements; 
but so crafty was he in shunning men, whom he 

TEbe In no of tbe flDamc^efeel 329 

did not really fear, and whom he was wont to 
study intently from safe coverts, that there was 
never a hunter who could boast of having got a 
shot at him. 

Once, and once only, did he come into actual, 
face to face conflict with the strange man-creature. 
It was one autumn evening, at the first of the 
season. By the edge of a little lake, he heard the 
call of a cow. Having already found a mate, he 
was somewhat inattentive, and did not answer; but 
something strange in the call made him suspicious, 
and he stole forward, under cover, to make an 
observation. The call was repeated, seeming to 
come from a little, rushy island, a stone's throw 
from shore. This time there came an answer, 
not from the king, but from an eager bull rushing 
up from the outlet of the lake. The king listened, 
with some lazy interest, to the crashing and slashing 
of the impetuous approach, thinking that if the visi- 
tor were big enough to be worth while he would 
presently go out and thrash him. When the visitor 
did appear, however, bursting from the underbrush 
and striding boldly down to the water's edge, a 
strange thing happened. From the rushy island 
came a spurt of flame, a sharp detonating report. 
The bull jumped and wheeled in his tracks. An- 

330 Ube frtnorefc of tbe WU6 

other report, and he dropped without a kick. As 
he lay in the pale light, close to the water, a canoe 
shot out from the rushy island and landed some dis- 
tance from the body. Two men sprang out. They 
pulled up the canoe, leaving their rifles in it, and 
ran up to skin the prize. 

The king in his hiding-place understood. This 
was what men could do, make a strange, menac- 
ing sound, and kill moose with it. He boiled with 
rage at this exhibition of their power, and suddenly 
took up the quarrel of the slain bull. But by no 
means did he lay aside his craft. Noiselessly he 
moved, a vast and furtive shadow, down through 
the thickets to a point where the underbrush nearly 
touched the water. This brought him within a few 
yards of the canoe, wherein the hunters had left 
their rifles. Here he paused a few moments, pon- 
dering. But as he pondered, redder and redder 
grew his eyes; and suddenly, with a mad roar, he 
burst from cover and charged. 

Had the two men not been expert woodsmen, 
one or the other would have been caught and 
smashed to pulp. But their senses were on the 
watch. Cut off as they were from the canoe and 
from their weapons, their only hope was a tree. 
Before the king was fairly out into view, they had 

Ube ftfno of tbe flDamosefcel 331 

understood the whole situation, sprung to their feet, 
and sped off like hares. Just within the nearest 
fringe of bushes grew a low-hanging beech-tree; 
and into this they swung themselves, just as the 
king came raging beneath. As it was, one of them 
was nearly caught when he imagined himself quite 
safe. The king reared his mighty bulk against 
the trunk and with his keen-spiked antlers reached 
upward fiercely after the fugitives, the nearest of 
whom was saved only by a friendly branch which 

For nearly an hour the king stamped and stormed 
beneath the branches, while the trapped hunters 
alternately cursed his temper and wondered at his 
stature. Then, with a swift change of purpose, he 
wheeled and charged on the canoe. In two minutes 
the graceful craft was reduced to raw material, 
while the hunters in the tree-top, sputtering furi- 
ously, vowed vengeance. All the kit, the tins, the 
blankets, the boxes, were battered shapeless, and the 
rifles thumped well down into the wet sand. In 
the midst of the cataclysm, one of the rifles somehow 
went off. The noise and the flash astonished the 
king, but only added to his rage and made him more 
thorough in his work of destruction. When there 
was nothing left that seemed worth trampling upoa 

332 ubc Kindred of tbc Mild 

he returned to the tree, on which he had kept eye 
all the time, and there nursed his wrath all night. 
At the first of dawn, however, he came to the con- 
clusion that the shivering things in the tree were 
not worth waiting for. He swung off, and sought 
his favourite pasturage, a mile or two away; and 
the men, after making sure of his departure, climbed 
down. They nervously cut some steaks from the 
bull which they had killed, and hurried away, crest- 
fallen, on the long tramp back to the settlements. 

This incident, however, did not have the effect 
which it might have been expected to have. It did 
not make the king despise men. On the contrary, 
he now knew them to be dangerous, and he also 
knew that their chief power lay in the long dark 
tubes which spit fire and made fierce sounds. It 
was enough for him that he had once worsted them. 
Ever afterward he gave them wide berth. And the 
tradition of him would have come at last to be 
doubted in the settlements, but for the vast, shed 
antlers occasionally found lying on the diminished 
snows of March. 

But all the time, while the king waxed huge and 
wise, and overthrew his enemies, and begot great 
offspring that, for many years after he was dead, 
were to make the Mamozekel famous, there was one 

TEbc fttna of tbc flDamosefcel 333 

grave incompleteness in his sovereignty. His old 
panic fear of bears still shamed and harassed him. 
The whiff of a harmless half-grown cub, engrossed 
in stuffing its greedy red mouth with blueberries, 
was enough to turn his blood to water and send 
him off to other feeding-grounds. He chose his 
ranges, indeed, first of all for their freedom from 
the dreaded taint, and only second for the excellence 
of their pasturage. This one unreasoning fear was 
the drop of gall which went far toward embittering 
all the days of his singularly favoured life. It was 
as if the wood-gods, after endowing him so far 
beyond his fellows, had repented of their lavishness, 
and capriciously poisoned their gifts. 

One autumn night, just at the beginning of the 
calling season, this weakness of his betrayed the 
king to the deepest humiliation which had ever 
befallen him. He was then nearly seven years old; 
and because his voice was known to every bull in 
the Tobique country, there was never answer made 
when his great challenge went stridently resounding 
over the moonlit wastes. But on this particular 
night, when he had roared perhaps for his own 
amusement, or for the edification of his mate who 
browsed near by, rather than with any expectation 
of response, to his astonishment there came an an- 

334 Ube IkinOreD ot tbe 

swering defiance from the other side of the open. 
A big, wandering bull, who had strayed up from 
the Grand River region, had never heard of the 
king, and was more than ready to put his valour 
to test. The king rushed to meet him. Now it 
chanced that between the approaching giants was 
an old ash-tree growing out of a thicket. In this 
thicket a bear had been grubbing for roots. When 
he heard the king's first roar, he started to steal 
away from the perilous proximity; but the second 
bull's answer, from the direction in which he had 
hoped to retreat, stopped him. In much perturba- 
tion he climbed the ash-tree to a safe distance, and 
curled himself into a black, furry ball, in a fork 
of the branches. 

The night was still, and no scents wafting to 
sensitive nostrils. With short roars, and much 
thrashing of the underbrush, the two bulls drew 
near. When the king was just about abreast of 
the bear's hiding-place, his arrogance broke into 
fury, and he charged upon the audacious stranger. 
Just as he did so, and just as his foe sprang to 
meet him, a wilful night-wind puffed lightly through 
the branches. It was a very small, irresponsible 
wind; but it carried sharply to the king's nostrils 
the strong, fresh taint of bear. 

Ube tang of tbe fl&amosefcel 337 

The smell was so strong, it seemed to the king 
is if the bear must be fairly on his haunches. It 
,vas like an icy cataract flung upon him. He shrank, 
:rembled, and the old wounds twinged and 
:ringed. The next moment, to the triumphant 
imazement of his antagonist, he had wheeled aside 
:o avoid the charge, and was off through the under- 
Drush in ignominious flight. The newcomer, who, 
tor all his stout-heartedness, had viewed with con- 
:ern the giant bulk of his foe, stopped short in his 
:racks and stared in bewilderment. So easy a vic- 
tory as this was beyond his dreams, even beyond 
his desires. However, a bull moose can be a phi- 
losopher on occasion, and this one was not going 
to quarrel with good luck. In high elation he strode 
Dn up the meadow, and set himself, not unsuccess- 
fully, to wooing the deserted and disgusted cow. 

His triumph, however, was short-lived. About 
moon-rise of the following night the king came back. 
He was no longer thinking of bears, and his heart 
was full of wrath. His vast challenge came down 
from the near-by hills, making the night resound 
with its short, explosive thunders. His approach 
was accompanied by the thrashing of giant antlers 
on the trees, and by a crashing as if the under- 
growths were being trodden by a locomotive. There 

338 ube Ifcinbreo of tbe Wiilb 

was grim omen in the sounds ; and the cow, waving 
her great ears back and forward thoughtfully, eyed 
the Grand River bull with shrewd interest. The 
stranger showed himself game, no whit daunted 
by threatenings and thunder. He answered with 
brave roarings, and manifested every resolution to 
maintain his conquest. But sturdy and valorous 
though he was, all his prowess went for little when 
the king fell upon him, thrice terrible from the 
memory of his humiliation. There was no such 
thing as withstanding that awful charge. Before 
it the usurper was borne back, borne down, over- 
whelmed, as if he had been no more than a yearling 
calf. He had no chance to recover. He was tram- 
pled and ripped and thrust onward, a helpless sprawl 
of unstrung legs and outstretched, piteous neck. It 
was luck alone, or some unwonted kindness of 
the wood-spirits, that saved his life from being 
trodden and beaten out in that hour of terror. It 
was close to the river-bank that he had made his 
stand; and presently, to his great good fortune, 
he was thrust over the brink. He fell into the 
water with a huge splash. When he struggled to 
his feet, and moved off, staggering, down the 
shallow edges of the stream, the king looked over 
and disdained to follow up the vengeance. 

Ube Ifcino ot tbe flDamosefcel 339 

Fully as he had vindicated himself, the king was 
never secure against such a humiliation so long as 
he rested thrall to his one fear. The threat of the 
bear hung over him, a mystery of terror which 
he could not bring himself to face. But at last, and 
in the season of his weakness, when he had shed 
his antlers, there came a day when he was forced 
to face it. Then his kingliness was put to the 
supreme trial. 

He was now at the age of nine years, in the 
splendour of his prime. He stood over seven feet 
high at the shoulders, and weighed perhaps thirteen 
hundred pounds. His last antlers, those which he 
had shed two months before, had shown a gigantic 
spread of nearly six feet. 

It was late April. Much honeycombed snow and 
ice still lingered in the deeper hollows. After a 
high fashion of his own, seldom followed among 
the moose of the Tobique region, the king had re- 
joined his mate when she emerged from her spring 
retreat with a calf at her flank. He was too lordly 
in spirit to feel cast down or discrowned when his 
head was shorn of its great ornament; and he 
never felt the spring moroseness which drives most 
bull moose into seclusion. He always liked to keep 
his little herd together, was tolerant to the year- 

340 ^bc lUn&reo of tbe TKflilo 

lings, and even refrained from driving off the 
two-year-olds until their own aggressiveness made 
it necessary. 

On this particular April day, the king was be- 
striding a tall poplar sapling, which he had borne 
down that he might browse upon its tender, sap- 
swollen tips. By the water's edge the cow and the 
yearling were foraging on the young willow shoots. 
The calf, a big-framed, enterprising youngster two 
weeks old, almost as fine a specimen of young 
moosehood as the king had been at his age, was 
poking about curiously to gather knowledge of 
the wilderness world. He approached a big gray- 
white boulder, whose base was shrouded in spruce 
scrub, and sniffed apprehensively at a curious, pun- 
gent taint that came stealing out upon the air. 

He knew by intuition that there was peril in 
that strange scent; but his interest overweighed his 
caution, and he drew close to the spruce scrub. 
Close, and yet closer; and his movement was so 
unusual that it attracted the attention of the king, 
who stopped browsing to watch him intently. A 
vague, only half-realised memory of that far-off 
day when he himself, a lank calf of the season, 
went sniffing curiously at a thicket, stirred in his 
brain ; and the stiff hair along his neck and shoulder 

'King of tbe flbamoseftel 341 

began to bristle. He released the poplar sapling, 
and turned all his attention to the behaviour of the 

The calf was very close to the green edges of 
the spruce scrub, when he caught sight of a great 
dark form within, which had revealed itself by a 
faint movement. More curious than ever, but now 
distinctly alarmed, he shrank back, turning at the 
same time, as if to investigate from another and 
more open side of the scrub. 

The next instant a black bulk lunged forth with 
incredible swiftness from the green, and a great 
paw swung itself with a circular, sweeping motion, 
upon the retreating calf. In the wilderness world, 
as in the world of men, history has a trick of 
repeating itself; and this time, as on that day nine 
years before, the bear was just too late. The blow 
did not reach its object till most of its force was 
spent. It drew blood, and knocked the calf sprawl- 
ing, but did no serious damage. With a bleat of 
pain and terror, the little animal jumped to its 
feet and ran away. 

The bear would have easily caught him before 
he could recover himself; but another and very 
different voice had answered the bleat of the calf. 
At the king's roar of fury the bear changed his plans 

34> Hbe fctn&r.cfc of tbe 

and slunk back into hiding. In a moment the king 
came thundering up to the edge of the spruces. 
There, planting his fore-feet suddenly till they 
ploughed the ground, he stopped himself with a 
mighty effort. The smell of the bear had smitten 
him in the face. 

The moment was a crucial one. The pause was 
full of fate. Turning his head in indecision, he 
caught a cry of pain from the calf as it ran to its 
mother; and he saw the blood streaming down its 
flank. Then the kingliness of his heart arose vic- 
torious. With a roar, he breasted trampling into 
the spruce scrub, heedless at last of the dreaded 

The bear, meanwhile, had been seeking escape. 
He had just emerged on the other side of the spruces, 
and was slipping off to find a secure tree. As the 
king thundered down upon him, he wheeled with 
a savage growl, half squatted back, and struck out 
sturdily with that redoubtable paw. But at the 
same instant the king's edged hoofs came down upon 
him with the impact of a battering ram. They 
smashed in his ribs. They tore open his side. They 
hurled him over so that his belly was exposed. He 
was at a hopeless disadvantage. He had not an 
instant for recovery. Those avenging hoofs, with 


Ube "Ring ot tbe flDamosefcel 345 

the power of a pile-driver behind them, smote like 
lightning. The bear struck savagely, twice, thrice ; 
and his claws tore their way through hide and 
muscle till the king's blood gushed scarlet over his 
prostrate foe's dark fur. Then, the growls and the 
claw-strokes ceased; and the furry shape lay still, 
outstretched, unresisting. 

For a moment or two the king drew off, and eyed 
the carcass. Then the remembrance of all his past 
terror and shame surged hotly through him. He 
pounced again upon the body, and pounded it, and 
trampled it, and ground it down, till the hideous 
mass bore no longer a resemblance to any thing that 
ever carried the breath of life. It was not his 
enemy only, not only the assailant of the helpless 
calf, that he was thus completely blotting from exis- 
tence, but it was fear itself that he was wiping 

At last, grown suddenly tired of rage, and some- 
what faint from the red draining of his veins, the 
king turned away and sought his frightened herd. 
They gathered about him, trembling with excite- 
ment, the light-coated cow, the dark yearling, 
the lank, terrified calf. They stretched thin noses 
toward him, questioning, wondering, troubled at 
his hot, streaming wounds. But the king held his 

346 ube lUn&re& ot tbe 

head high, heeding neither the wounds nor the 
herd. He cast one long, proud look up the valley 
of the Mamozekel, his immediate, peculiar domain. 
Then he looked southward over the lonely Serpen- 
tine, northward across the dark-wooded Nictau, and 
westward down the flood of the full, united stream. 
He felt himself supreme now beyond challenge over 
all the wild lands of Tobique. 

For a long time the group stood so, breathing 
at last quietly, still with that stillness which the 
furtive kindreds know. There was no sound save 
the soft, ear-filling roar of the three rivers, swollen 
with freshet, rushing gladly to their confluence. 
The sound was as a background to the cool, damp 
silence of the April wilderness. Some belated snow 
in a shaded hollow close at hand shrank and settled, 
with a hushed, evasive whisper. Then the earliest 
white-throat, from the top of a fir-tree, fluted across 
the pregnant spring solitudes the six clear notes of 
his musical and melancholy call. 

in PZIM 

In panoply of Speare 

HERE was a pleasant humming all about 
the bee-tree, where it stood solitary on the 
little knoll upon the sunward slope of the 
forest. It was an ancient maple, one side long since 
blasted by lightning, and now decayed to the heart; 
while the other side yet put forth a green bravery 
of branch and leaf. High up under a dead limb was 
a hole, thronged about with diligent bees who came 
and went in long diverging streams against the sun- 
steeped blue. A mile below, around the little, strag- 
gling backwoods settlement, the buckwheat was in 
bloom; and the bees counted the longest day too 
short for the gathering of its brown and fragrant 

In fine contrast to their bustle and their haste was 
a moveless dark brown figure clinging to a leafy 
branch on the other and living side of the tree. 
From a distance it might easily have been taken for 
a big bird's-nest. Far out on the limb it sat, huddled 
into a bristling ball. Its nose, its whole head in- 


35 ^be frtn&refc ot tbe TOUID 

deed, were hidden between its fore paws, which 
childishly but tenaciously clutched at a little upright 
branch. In this position, seemingly so precarious, 
but really, for the porcupine, the safest and most 
comfortable that could be imagined, it dozed away 
the idle summer hours. 

From the thick woods at the foot of the knoll 
emerged a large black bear, who lifted his nose and 
eyed shrewdly the humming streams of workers 
converging at the hole in the bee-tree. For some 
time the bear stood contemplative, till an eager light 
grew in his small, cunning, half-humourous eyes. 
His long red tongue came out and licked his lips, 
as he thought of the summer's sweetness now stored 
in the hollow tree. He knew all about that pros- 
perous bee colony. He remembered when, two years 
before, the runaway swarm from the settlement had 
taken possession of the hole in the old maple. That 
same autumn he had tried to rifle the treasure-house^ 
but had found the wood about the entrance still too 
sound and strong for even such powerfully rending 
claws as his. He had gone away surly with dis- 
appointment, to scratch a few angry bees out of his 
fur, and wait for the natural processes of decay to 
weaken the walls of the citadel. 

On this particular day he decided to try again. 

35 1 

He had no expectation that he would succeed ; but 
the thought of the honey grew irresistible to him as 
he dwelt upon it. He lumbered lazily up the knoll, 
reared his dark bulk against the trunk, and started 
to climb to the attack. 

But the little workers in the high-set hive found 
an unexpected protector in this hour of their need. 
The dozing porcupine wol^e up, and took it into his 
head that he wanted to go somewhere else. Per- 
haps in his dreams a vision had come to him of 
the lonely little oat-field in the clearing, where the 
young grain was plumping out and already full of 
milky sweetness. As a rule he preferred to travel 
and feed by night. But the porcupine is the last 
amid the wild kindreds to let convention interfere 
with impulse, and he does what seems good to the 
whim of the moment. His present whim was to 
descend the bee-tree and journey over to the 

The bear had climbed but seven or eight feet, 
when he heard the scraping of claws on the bark 
above. He heard also the light clattering noise, 
unlike any other sound in the wilderness. He knew 
it at once as the sound of the loose-hung, hollow 
quills in a porcupine's active tail; and looking up 
angrily, he saw the porcupine curl himself down- 

352 ttbe IRfn&refc ot tbe 

ward from a crotch and begin descending the trunk 
to meet him. 

The bear weighed perhaps four hundred or five 
hundred pounds. The porcupine weighed perhaps 
twenty-five pounds. Nevertheless, the bear stopped ; 
and the porcupine came on. When he saw the bear, 
he gnashed his teeth irritably, and his quills, his 
wonderful panoply of finely barbed spears, erected 
themselves all over his body till his usual bulk 
seemed doubled. At the same time his colour 
changed. It was almost as if he had grown sud- 
denly pale with indignation; for when the long 
quills stood up from among his blackish-brown fur 
they showed themselves all white save for their 
dark keen points. Small as he was in comparison 
with his gigantic opponent, he looked, nevertheless, 
curiously formidable. He grunted and grumbled 
querulously, and came on with confidence, obsti- 
nately proclaiming that no mere bear should for a 
moment divert him from his purpose. 

Whether by instinct, experience, or observation, 
the bear knew something about porcupines. What 
would honey be to him, with two or three of those 
slender and biting spear-points embedded in his 
nose? As he thought of it, he backed away with 
increasing alacrity. He checked a rash impulse 


fit panoplg of Spears 355 

to dash the arrogant little hinderer from the tree 
and annihilate him with one stroke of his mighty 
paw, but the mighty paw cringed, winced, and 
drew back impotent, as its sensitive nerves consid- 
ered how it would feel to be stuck full, like a pin- 
cushion, with inexorably penetrating points. At 
last, thoroughly outfaced, the bear descended to 
the ground, and stood aside respectfully for the 
porcupine to pass. 

The porcupine, however, en reaching the foot 
of the trunk, discovered an uncertainty in his mind. 
His whim wavered. He stopped, scratched his 
ears thoughtfully first with one fore paw and then 
with the other, and tried his long, chisel-like front 
teeth, those matchless gnawing machines, on a pro- 
jecting edge of bark. The bear eyed him for some 
moments, then lumbered off into the woods indiffer- 
ently, convinced that the bee-tree would be just as 
interesting on some other day. But before that 
other day came around, the bear encountered Fate, 
lying in wait for him, grim and implacable, be- 
neath a trapper's deadfall in the heart of the 
tamarack swamp. And the humming tribes in the 
bee-tree were left to possess their honeyed common- 
wealth in peace. 

Soon after the bear had left the knoll, the porcu- 

fttnfcrefc of tbe 

pine appeared to make up his mind as to what he 
wanted to do. With an air of fixed purpose he 
started down the knoll, heading for the oat-field 
and the clearing which lay some half-mile distant 
through the woods. As he moved on the ground, 
he was a somewhat clumsy and wholly grotesque 
figure. He walked with a deliberate and precise air, 
very slowly, and his legs worked as if the earth 
were to them an unfamiliar element. He was about 
two and a half feet long, short-legged, solid and 
sturdy looking, with a nose curiously squared off so 
that it should not get in the way of his gnawing. 
As he confronted you, his great chisel teeth, bared 
and conspicuous, appeared a most formidable 
weapon. Effective as they were, however, they were 
not a weapon which he was apt to call into use, 
save against inanimate and edible opponents; be- 
cause he could not do so without exposing his weak 
points to attack, his nose, his head, his soft, un- 
protected throat. His real weapon of offence was 
his short, thick tail, which was heavily armed with 
very powerful quills. With this he could strike 
slashing blows, such as would fill an enemy's face 
or paws with spines, and send him howling from the 
encounter. Clumsy and inert it looked, on ordinary 
occasions ; but when need arose, its muscles had the 
lightning action of a strong steel spring. 

In panoply of Spears 357 

As the porcupine made his resolute way through 
the woods, the manner of his going differed from 
that of all the other kindreds of the wild. He went 
not furtively. He had no particular objection to 
making a noise. He did not consider it necessary 
to stop every little while, stiffen himself to a mon- 
ument of immobility, cast wary glances about the 
gloom, and sniff the air for the taint of enemies. 
He did not care who knew of his coming; and he 
did not greatly care who came. Behind his panoply 
of biting spears he felt himself secure, and in that 
security he moved as if he held in fee the whole 
green, shadowy, perilous woodland world. 

A wood-mouse, sitting in the door of his burrow 
between the roots of an ancient fir-tree, went on 
washing his face with his dainty paws as the por- 
cupine passed within three feet of him. Almost 
any other forest traveller would have sent the timid 
mouse darting to the depths of his retreat; but he 
knew that the slow-moving figure, however terrible 
to look at, had no concern for wood-mice. The 
porcupine had barely passed, however, when a 
weasel came in view. In a flash the mouse was 
gone, to lie hidden for an hour, with trembling 
heart, in the furthest darkness of his burrow. 

Continuing his journey, the porcupine passed 

358 Ube ftfufcrefc of tbe 

under a fallen tree. Along the horizontal trunk lay 
a huge lynx, crouched flat, movelessly watching 
for rabbit, chipmunk, mink, or whatever quarry 
might come within his reach. He was hungry, as 
a lynx is apt to be. He licked his chaps, and his 
wide eyes paled with savage fire, as the porcupine 
dawdled by beneath the tree, within easy clutch 
of his claws. But his claws made no least motion 
of attack. He, too, like the bear, knew something 
about porcupines. In a few moments, however, 
when the porcupine had gone on some ten or twelve 
feet beyond his reach, his feelings overcame him so 
completely that he stood up and gave vent to an 
appalling scream of rage. All the other wild things 
within hearing trembled at the sound, and were 
still ; and the porcupine, startled out of his equi- 
poise, tucked his nose between his legs, and bristled 
into a ball of sharp defiance. The lynx eyed him 
venomously for some seconds, then dropped lightly 
from the perch, and stole off to hunt in other neigh- 
bourhoods, realising that his reckless outburst of 
bad temper had warned all the coverts for a quarter 
of a mile around. The porcupine, uncurling, 
grunted scornfully and resumed his journey. 

Very still, and lonely and bright the clearing lay 
in the flooding afternoon sunshine. It lay along 

In IPanoplp of Spears 359 

beside a deeply rutted, grass-grown backwoods road 
which had been long forgotten by the attentions of 
the road-master. It was enclosed from the forest 
in part by a dilapidated wall of loose stones, in part 
by an old snake fence, much patched with brush. 
The cabin which had once presided over its solitude 
had long fallen to ruin ; but its fertile soil had saved 
it from being forgotten. A young farmer-lumber- 
man from the settlement a couple of miles away 
held possession of it, and kept its boundaries more 
or less intact, and made it yield him each year a 
crop of oats, barley, or buckwheat. 

Emerging from the woods, the porcupine crawled 
to the top of the stone wall and glanced about him 
casually. Then he descended into the cool, light- 
green depths of the growing oats. Here he was 
completely hidden, though his passage was indi- 
cated as he went by the swaying and commotion 
among the oat-tops. 

The high plumes of the grain, of course, were far 
above the porcupine's reach ; and for a healthy appe- 
tite like his it would have been tedious work indeed 
to pull down the stalks one by one. At this point, he 
displayed an ingenious resourcefulness with which 
he is seldom credited by observers of his kind. Be- 
cause he is slow in movement, folk are apt to con- 

360 ube frtnoreo of tbe 

elude that he is slow in wit; whereas the truth is 
that he has fine reserves of shrewdness to fall back 
on in emergency. Instead of pulling and treading 
down the oats at haphazard, he moved through the 
grain in a small circle, leaning heavily inward. 
When he had thus gone around the circle several 
times, the tops of the grain lay together in a con- 
venient bunch. This succulent sheaf he dragged 
down, and devoured with relish. 

When he had abundantly satisfied his craving for 
young oats, he crawled out upon the open sward 
by the fence, and carelessly sampled the bark of a 
seedling apple-tree. While he was thus engaged 
a big, yellow dog came trotting up the wood-road, 
poking his nose inquisitively into every bush and 
stump in the hope of finding a rabbit or chipmunk 
to chase. He belonged to the young farmer who 
owned the oat-field; and when, through the rails 
of the snake fence, he caught sight of the porcupine, 
he was filled with noisy wrath. Barking and yelp- 
ing, partly with excitement, and partly as a sig- 
nal to his master who was trudging along the road 
far behind him, he clambered over the fence, and 
bore down upon the trespasser. 

The porcupine was not greatly disturbed by this 
loud onslaught, but he did not let confidence make 

Hn panoply of Spears 361 

him careless. He calmly tucked his head under 
his breast, set his quills in battle array, and awaited 
the event with composure. 

Had he discovered the porcupine in the free 
woods, the yellow dog would have let him severely 
alone. But in his master's oat-field, that was a dif- 
ferent matter. Moreover, the knowledge that his 
master was coming added to his zeal and rashness; 
and he had long cherished the ambition to kill a 
porcupine. He sprang forward, open-jawed, 
and stopped short when his fangs were just within 
an inch or two of those bristling and defiant points. 
Caution had come to his rescue just in time. 

For perhaps half a minute he ran, whining and 
baffled, around the not-to-be daunted ball of spines. 
Then he sat down upon his haunches, lifted up his 
muzzle, and howled for his master to come and 
help him. 

As his master failed to appear within three sec- 
onds, his impatience got the better of him, and he 
again began running around the porcupine, snapping 
fiercely, but never coming within two or three inches 
of the militant points. For a few moments these 
two or three inches proved to be a safe distance. 
Such a distance from the shoulders, back, and sides 
was all well enough. But suddenly, he was so mis- 

362 Ube ftinfereft of tbe Wtlo 

guided as to bring his teeth together within a couple 
of inches of the armed but quiescent tail. This was 
the instant for which the porcupine had been wait- 
ing. The tail flicked smartly. The big dog jumped, 
gave a succession of yelping cries, pawed wildly 
at his nose, then tucked his tail between his legs, 
scrambled over the fence, and fled away to his mas- 
ter. The porcupine unrolled himself, and crawled 
into an inviting hole in the old stone wall. 

About ten minutes later a very angry man, armed 
with a fence-stake, appeared at the edge of the 
clearing with a cowed dog at his heels. He wanted 
to find the porcupine which had stuck those quills 
into his dog's nose. Mercifully merciless, he had 
held the howling dog in a grip of iron while he 
pulled out the quills with his teeth; and now he 
was after vengeance. Knowing a little, but not 
everything, about porcupines, he searched every 
tree in the immediate neighbourhood, judging that 
the porcupine, after such an encounter, would make 
all haste to his natural retreat. But he never looked 
in the hole in the wall; and the yellow dog, who 
had come to doubt the advisability of finding por- 
cupines, refused firmly to assist in the search. In a 
little while, when his anger began to cool, he gave 
over the hunt in disgust, threw away the fence- 

Hn panopls ot Spears 363 


stake, bit off a goodly chew from the fig of black 
tobacco which he produced from his hip-pocket, and 
strode away up the grassy wood-road. 

For perhaps half an hour the porcupine dozed in 
the hole among the stones. Then he woke up, 
crawled out, and moved slowly along the top of the 

There was a sound of children's voices coming up 
the road; but the porcupine, save for a grumble 
of impatience, paid no attention. Presently the 
children came in sight, a stocky little boy of nine 
or ten, and a lank girl of perhaps thirteen, making 
their way homeward from school by the short cut 
over the mountain. Both were barefooted and bare- 
legged, deeply freckled, and with long, tow-coloured 
locks. The boy wore a shirt and short breeches 
of blue-gray homespun, the breeches held up pre- 
cariously by one suspender. On his head was a 
tattered and battered straw; and in one hand he 
swung a little tin dinner-pail. The girl wore the 
like blue-gray homespun for a petticoat, with a 
waist of bright red calico, and carried a limp pink 
sunbonnet on her arm. 

" Oh, see the porkypine ! " cried the girl, as they 
came abreast of the stone wall. 

"By gosh! Let's kill it!" exclaimed the stocky 

364 TTbe frtnoreo of tbe WtU> 

little boy, starting forward eagerly, with a prompt 
efflorescence of primitive instincts. But his sister 
clutched him by the arm and anxiously restrained 

" My lands, Jimmy, you musn't go near a porky- 
pine like that ! " she protested, more learned than 
her brother in the hoary myths of the settlements. 
" Don't you know he can fling them quills of his'n 
at you, an' they'll go right through an' come out 
the other side?" 

" By gosh ! " gasped the boy, eyeing the uncon- 
cerned animal with apprehension, and edging off to 
***'* the furthermost ditch. Hand in hand, their eyes 
wide with excitement, the two children passed be- 
yond the stone wall. Then, as he perceived that the 
porcupine had not seemed to notice them, the boy's 
hunting instinct revived. He stopped, set down the 
tin dinner-pail, and picked up a stone. 

"No, you don't, Jimmy!" intervened the girl, 
with mixed emotions of kindliness and caution, as 
she grabbed his wrist and dragged him along. 

"Why, Sis?" protested the boy, hanging back, 
and looking over his shoulder longingly. " Jest 
let me fling a stone at him ! " 

" No ! " said his sister, with decision. " He ain't 
a-hurtin' us, an' he's mindin' his own business. An' 

Un panoply of Spears 365 

I reckon maybe he can fling quills as fur as you can 
fling stones ! " 

Convinced by this latter argument, the boy gave 
up his design, and suffered his wise sister to lead 
him away from so perilous a neighbourhood. The 
two little figures vanished amid the green glooms 
beyond the clearing, and the porcupine was left 
untroubled in his sovereignty. 


That autumn, late one moonlight night, the por- 
cupine was down by a little forest lake feasting on 
lily pads. He occupied a post of great advantage, 
a long, narrow ledge of rock jutting out into the 
midst of the lilies, and rising but an inch or two 
above the water. Presently, to his great indigna- 
tion, he heard a dry rustling of quills behind him, 
and saw another porcupine crawl out upon his rock. 
He faced about, bristling angrily and gnashing his 
teeth, and advanced to repel the intruder. 

The intruder hesitated, then came on again with 
confidence, but making no hostile demonstrations 
whatever. When the two met, the expected con- 
flict was by some sudden agreement omitted. They 
touched blunt noses, squeaked and grunted together 
for awhile till a perfect understanding was estab- 

366 Ube 1tint>ret> of tbe KAifc 

lished; then crawled ashore and left the lily pads 
to rest, broad, shiny, and unruffled in the moon- 
light, little platters of silver on the dark glass of 
the lake. 

The newcomer was a female ; and with such brief 
wooing the big porcupine had taken her for his mate. 
Now he led her off to show her the unequalled den 
which he had lately discovered. The den was high 
in the side of a heap of rocks, dry in all weathers, 
and so overhung by a half -uprooted tree as to be 
very well concealed from passers and prowlers. Its 
entrance was long and narrow, deterrent to rash 
investigators. In fact, just after the porcupine had 
moved in, a red fox had discovered the doorway 
and judged it exactly to his liking; but on finding 

that the occupant was a porcupine, he had hastily 
decided to seek accommodation elsewhere. In this 
snug house the two porcupines settled contentedly 
for the winter. 

The winter passed somewhat uneventfully for 
them, though for the rest of the wood-folk it was 
a season of unwonted hardship. The cold was more 
intense and more implacable than had been known 
about the settlements for years. Most of the wild 
creatures, save those who could sleep the bitter 
months away and abide the coming of spring, found 

In panoply of Spears 367 

themselves face to face with famine. But the por- 
cupines feared neither famine nor cold. The brown 
fur beneath their quills was thick and warm, and 
hunger was impossible to them with all the trees 
of the forest for their pasturage. Sometimes, when 
the cold made them sluggish, they would stay all 
day and all night in a single balsam-fir or hemlock, 
stripping one branch after another of leaf and twig, 
indifferent to the monotony of their diet. At other 
times, however, they were as active and enterprising 
as if all the heats of summer were loosing their 
sinews. On account of the starvation-madness that 
was everywhere ranging the coverts, they were more 
than once attacked as they crawled lazily over the 
snow; but on each occasion the enemy, whether 
lynx or fox, fisher or mink, withdrew discomfited, 
with something besides hunger in his hide to think 

Once, in midwinter, they found a prize which 
added exquisite variety to their bill of fare. Hav- 
ing wandered down to the outskirts of the settle- 
ments, they discovered, cast aside among the bushes, 
an empty firkin which had lately contained salt 
pork. The wood, saturated with brine, was de- 
licious to the porcupines. Greedily they gnawed at 
it, returning night after night to the novel banquet, 

368 ftbe fttnorefc of tbe WU5 

till the last sliver of the flavoured wood was gone. 
Then, after lingering a day or two longer in the 
neighbourhood, expecting another miracle, they re- 
turned to their solitudes and their hemlock. 

When winter was drawing near its close, but 
spring had not yet sent the wilderness word of her 
coming, the porcupines got her message in their 
blood. They proclaimed it abroad in the early twi- 
light from the tops of the high hemlocks, in queer, 
half-rhythmical choruses of happy grunts and 
squeaks. The sound was far from melodious, but 
it pleased every one of the wild kindred to whose 
ears it came; for they knew that when the porcu- 
pines got trying to sing, then the spring thaws were 
hurrying up from the south. 

At last the long desired one came; and every lit- 
tle rill ran a brawling brook in the fulness of its 
joy. And the ash-buds swelled rich purple ; and the 
maples crimsoned with their misty blooms ; and the 
skunk cabbage began to thrust up bold knobs of 
emerald, startling in their brightness, through the 
black and naked leaf-mould of the swamp. And 
just at this time, when all the wild kindred, from the 
wood-mouse to the moose, felt sure that life was 
good, a porcupine baby was born in the snug den 
among the rocks. 



In panoply of Spears 37 * 

It was an astonishingly big baby, the biggest, 
in proportion to the size of its parents, of all the 
babies of the wild. In fact it was almost as big 
as an average bear cub. It was covered with long, 
dark brown, silky fur, under which the future pan- 
oply of spear-points was already beginning to make 
way through the tender skin. Its mother was very 
properly proud, and assiduous in her devotion. And 
the big father, though seemingly quite indifferent, 
kept his place contentedly in the den instead of going 
off sourly by himself to another lair as the porcupine 
male is apt to do on the arrival of the young. 

One evening about dusk, when the young porcu- 
pine was but three days old, a weasel glided noise- 
lessly up to the door of the den, and sniffed. His 
eyes, set close together and far down toward his 
malignant, pointed nose, were glowing red with 
the lust of the kill. Fierce and fearless as he was, 
he knew well enough that a porcupine was some- 
thing for him to let alone. But this, surely, was 
his chance to feed fat an ancient grudge; for he 
hated everything that he could not hope to kill. 
He had seen the mother porcupine feeding comfort- 
ably in the top of a near-by poplar. And now he 
made assurance doubly sure by sniffing at her trail, 
which came out from the den and did not return. As 

37 2 tlbe lrtn&reo of tbe TJBUlfc 

for the big male porcupine, the prowler took it for 
granted that he had followed the usage of his kind, 
and gone off about other business. Like a snake, 
he slipped in, and found the furry baby all alone. 
There was a strong, squeaking cry, a moment's 
struggle; and then the weasel drank eagerly at the 
blood of his easy prey. The blood, and the fierce 
joy of the kill, were all he wanted, for his hunting 
was only just begun. 

The assassin stayed but a minute with his victim, 
then turned swiftly to the door of the den. But the 
door was blocked. It was filled by an ominous, 
bristling bulk, which advanced upon him slowly, 
inexorably, making a sharp, clashing sound with 
its long teeth. The big porcupine had come home. 
And his eyes blazed more fiercely red than those 
of the weasel. 

The weasel, fairly caught, felt that doom was 
upon him. He backed away, over the body of his 
victim, to the furthest depth of the den. But, 
though a ruthless murderer, the most cruel of all 
the wild kindred, he was no coward. He would 
evade the slow avenger if he could; but if not, he 
would fight to the last gasp. 

Against this foe the porcupine scorned his cus- 
tomary tactics, and depended upon his terrible, cut- 

In panoply of Spears 373 

ting teeth. At the same time he knew that the 
weasel was desperate and deadly. Therefore he 
held his head low, shielding his tender throat. 
When he reached the wider part of the den, he 
suddenly swung sidewise, thus keeping the exit 
still blocked. 

Seeing now that there was no escape, the weasel 
gathered his forces for one last fight. Like light- 
ning he sprang, and struck; and being, for speed, 
quite matchless among the wild folk, he secured 
a deadly hold on the porcupine's jaw. The porcu- 
pine squeaked furiously and tried to shake his ad- 
versary off. With a sweep of his powerful neck, 
he threw the weasel to one side, and then into the 
air over his head. 

The next instant the weasel came down, sprawl- 
ing widely, full upon the stiffly erected spears of the 
porcupine's back. They pierced deep into his tender 
belly. With a shrill cry he relaxed his hold on the 
avenger's jaw, shrank together in anguish, fell to 
the ground, and darted to the exit. As he passed 
he got a heavy slap from the porcupine's tail, which 
filled his face and neck with piercing barbs. Then 
he escaped from the den and fled away toward his 
own lair, carrying his death with him. Before he 
had gone a hundred yards one of the quills in his 

374 Ube frtnfcrefc ot tbc Wiilb 

belly reached a vital part. He faltered, fell, stretched 
his legs out weakly, and died. Then a red squirrel, 
who had been watching him in a quiver of fear 
and hate, shot from his hiding-place, ran wildly up 
and down his tree, and made the woods ring with 
his sharp, barking chatter of triumph over the death 
of the universal enemy. 

In the midst of the squirrel's shrill rejoicings the 
porcupine emerged from his den. He seemed to 
hesitate, which is not the way of a porcupine. He 
looked at his mate, still foraging in the top of her 
poplar, happily unaware for the present of how her 
little world had changed. He seemed to realise that 
the time of partings had come, the time when he 
must resume his solitude. He turned and looked 
at his den, he would never find another like it ! 
Then he crawled off through the cool, wet woods, 
where the silence seemed to throb sweetly with the 
stir and fulness of the sap. And in a hollow log, 
not far from the bee-tree on the knoll, he found 
himself a new home, small and solitary. 


A 000 029 432 2